Nestbox Survey keeps tabs on nearly
200 nestboxes in Aberystwyth University's woodlands. It forms part of
our project investigating how birds adapt their song to the level of background noise
We are most interested in great tits,
but record all species that use the boxes.
Teams of undergraduate field assistants
studying for degrees in
zoology and other subjects help keep track of what is happening in each box. Regular checks
begin in early March
as even in
winter boxes may be used for roosting.
As spring progresses the birds
start prospecting for nest sites.
We catch the great tits and place
coloured rings on
their legs so that they can be individually identified
from a distance. It is important that we know which male and which
female is using each box. One numbered metal ring is placed
An article by Aberystwyth
PhD student Emily Mockford about the
role of ringing in our work is available on the Dronfield Ringing
ringing is licensed by the British
Trust for Ornithology. We are very grateful to Sarah Harris
and Dave Anning who have been assisting us with the ringing of our great
tits. The picture shows a great tit with coloured rings
Nestboxes are used throughout the year. They
provide a warm, safe environment for roosting overnight, particularly in
winter. During the breeding season many nest boxes will have no
nest but will instead be used to roost in overnight by the male (the
female will be in the box with the nest).
Making Our Boxes
Our nestboxes were built in-house following
the RSPB's guidelines, available
here, with the exception that the holes were made larger (approx 33mm
diameter) as the great tits were unable to pass through the 28mm hole
recommended by the RSPB. They are positioned approximately 1.5m (5
feet) above the ground to allow for quick and easy checking without
disturbing the birds for too long and without the need to carry a ladder
around the woodland.
Please do not touch or open
any of our nestboxes that you come across - it could disturb the birds or cause them
to abandon their young.
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