Consider protecting your next box to keep the chicks safe

This message below came from Pauline Harvey in Queensland, Australia.

t's a salutary tale and shows that the safe homes we provide for our nesting birds are not necessarily as safe as we thought.

This is what Pauline has to say :-

My mother, who lives in Baldock Hertfordshire, had a small nesting box with an infra red camera inside mounted on an outside wall of her bungalow; my brother gave it to her as a gift as he thought it would be nice for her to be able to view any nesting activity via the camera through her television set.

My mother is 89 and wheelchair dependent so understandably she doesn't get out a great deal and this was something she was really looking forward to; she loves the birds in the garden. The first year however nothing, the 2nd year a single blue tit came and went daily for a month or two but alas no nesting activity. This year bingo! A pair of blue tits built a nest and laid 8 eggs. About 6 eggs hatched, and soon there was a bundle of tiny blue tits climbing all over each other, bald as badgers and beaks wide open when mum or dad came with food. My mother who is 89 was delighted and excitedly looked in on them every morning and night via the nesting box camera through the TV. Mum and Dad blue tit were very tentative and slowly the babies grew, eventually there were signs of feathers.

That's when tragedy struck, something none of us had even considered might happen. A Woodpecker attack. It pecked a large hole right in the front entrance of the box and in 2 visits took all the babies, flying away with them in its beak.

I can't tell you how distressing this was for my mother to witness this horrifying event and as she is in a wheelchair could do nothing to prevent it. When she realised the woodpecker was attacking the nest box, she turned on the TV and via the camera could better see what was happening. The woodpecker's beak could clearly be seen pecking into the hole and grabbing some babies. The nesting box was made of soft wood which made it easy for the woodpecker to peck a hole.

This message is to warn anyone with a similar nesting box to protect the box by sheeting the outside with something impenetrable by Woodpeckers. I know this is the nature's course and understand it completely, I just want to let others know that the soft wooden nesting boxes are vulnerable and obviously easy prey to Woodpeckers. So please take precautions and you will hopefully see 'your baby birds' grow and leave the nest as young adult birds and not in the beak of a Woodpecker.. And who knows maybe they will come back again next year to nest in a safe & sound nesting box. My mother will get a new nesting box and start again, but it may be another year or two now before we see another family inside it, but this time she will be making sure it is well protected. I have found out since that to surround the nesting box with wire netting will help deter the Woodpeckers.

Click for a larger picture