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Woodland management for birds: Birds and woodlands in Wales

standard boxes (see marsh tit above) may help to provide both species with nest sites in the same area with less competition, especially where suitable rotten stumps are limited.

Other woodland species that will readily use nestboxes include:

  • blue tit

  • coal tit

  • great spotted woodpecker

  • great tit

  • lesser spotted woodpecker

  • long-eared owl

  • nuthatch

  • redstart

  • starling.

Details can be found in du Feu (2003).

Security from predation

Predation is a significant cause of nest failure in natural holes and nestboxes. Woodpeckers and grey squirrels will widen the hole to gain access. Wooden boxes can be protected with a metal plate attached to surround the hole, although woodpeckers and squirrels may attempt to gain access from other positions. Woodcrete (see below) is largely immune to attacks by predators.


Where many nestboxes are required to populate a wood, cost is likely to be an issue. The temptation to take the cheapest option, which is often self-build from timber off-cuts, is not usually the most effective; it rarely lasts more than a few years, and construction is time-consuming. Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certificated softwood timber makes a reasonable compromise on cost and quality.

Tree logs: Cutting rounds from a log and boring out the centre with a chainsaw is cheap, relatively quick and can, with durable wood like oak, last. Birch is not very durable, but providing an angled rainproof top can extend its life. Log boxes will suit willow tits if packed with saw shavings, which are a by-product of their manufacture.

Woodcrete. This is a mix of wood shavings, clay and concrete and although relatively expensive, it is very durable – manufacturers’ guarantees are in the order of 25 years. It is also secure from predators, and well insulated from both cold and heat

  • high chick mortality can occur in both

extremes. They are commercially produced and offered in various sizes and hole dimensions for smaller species up to nuthatch size, and there is an open-fronted version. Cost is likely to prohibit extensive use, unless sponsored or grant-aided.

Further reading

De Feu C (2003) The BTO nestbox guide. The British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford.

Information is also available at: www.rspb.org.uk

Management in commercial conifer forests

Figure 18 (left) Log nestboxes are cheap to produce and fit into the environment.

Figure 19 (right) Nestholes can be created in cut willow stumps using a chainsaw, and may attract willow tits.

All of the management techniques described above apply equally to broadleaved, mixed and conifer woodlands. However, commercial conifer plantations may have specific management practices that may require consideration, particularly the temporary nature of some resources.


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