In the last few weeks, our volunteers have been doing lots of work on the ‘Willow Tit Project’. This has been based in Pot House and New Hall woods where we’ve been improving the environment and creating conditions for the bird to thrive – check this previous post for more information.

Our volunteers have also been building bird boxes and we managed to spend a day installing them last week before the ‘Beast from the East’ brought heavy snowfall.

What sort of nest box does the willow tit need?

The willow tit only has one brood a year, with egg laying starting between late March and early June. They like to excavate their own nest hole every year, meaning that they will not use traditional nest boxes – so a little work has to be done to mimic their preferred nesting site.

As they prefer a nest in natural logs, we added a strip of birch wood to the face of each nest box. The inside was then filled with sawdust to mimic a rotting log. The design and entry hole size is specific to the willow tit (which is between a blue tit and great tit in size). Although blue tits have been known to use willow tit nest boxes, the sawdust filling helps to deter this.

How are the nest boxes fixed to the tree?

The completed nest boxes are attached between 1m to 5m above the ground, in a position which gives the willow tit a clear line of site to the entrance.

Using a rubber strip rather than a nail, we were able to prevent damage to the trees and allow natural growth to take place.

What’s next?

We are continuing to improve the surrounding environment to create the right woodland conditions for the willow tit to nest in a natural habitat. Part of this work includes a programme of tree planting, which will commence soon.

More information

Funding for the Willow Tit project has been provided by Sheffield City Council and also Veolia Environmental Trust (through the Landfill Communities Fund).

SCC logoVeolia Logo

To see what other work we’ve been doing on the Willow Tit project, check our previous post here

Overview of the willow tit from the RSPB website here

If you would like to become involved in the Willow Tit project or any other work carried out by the Steel Valley Project, please take a look at our volunteer pages and get in touch for a chat.

 

Willow tit bird boxes

 

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