It is mainly the birds which nest in holes and cavities w hich breed in nest boxes.This also happens to be one of the groups of birds under heaviest pressure from the removal of natural nest sites through habitat alteration by man. One normally thinks of nest-box dwellers as being small birds, but there is a range of larger birds which can manage to breed in boxes, such as the goosander, goldeneye, mallard, mandarin duck, tawny owl, bam owl, Tcngmalm's owl, little owl, pygmy owl, kestrel, jackdaw, stock dove, great spotted woodpccker, black woodpecker, and wryneck.
The small birds which most commonly breed in nest boxes arc: the pied flycatcher, starling, great tit, blue tit, marsh tit, coal tit, nuthatch, house and tree sparrows, all of which use conventional tit type boxes with round entrance holes in the front; while spotted flycatcher, redstart, robin, and pied wagtail (white wagtail on the Continent) will use open fronted boxes. Further south on the Continent the black redstart which frequents buildings (in Germany it is called the house redstart) also uses these open fronted nest boxes.
At Bankbote, 20 km south of Valdermarsvik in Sweden, a study was made of hole-nesting birds breeding in nest boxes from 1956 to 1984. The number of boxes was gradually increased, reaching 130 in the last 10 years. The total number of nesting attempts over 29 years amongst the commonest species was as follows: 628 matings of pied flycatchers, producing around 2800 young which left the nest; 150 matings of starlings, producing around 450 young which left the nest; 142 matings of great tits, producing about 580 young. In addition, redstart.
goosander and other tit species each nested around 30 times, while occasional nesting by other species was also observed. Almost 4000 young birds of assorted species grew up in these nest boxes during the 29 years, which is by no means an insignificant contribution to the survival of these families, which would scarcely have been possible without all these nest boxes.
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