Homes for birds: the use of houses for nesting by birds in the UK

Published on 01 November 2002 in Main articles

ABSTRACT A joint survey, by RSPB and the BBC Radio 4 `Today’ programme, investigated the use of houses for nesting by four bird species (Common Swift Apus apus, House Martin Delichon urbica, Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris and House Sparrow Passer domesticus). Almost 10,000 completed questionnaires were received, representing a wide range of house types in rural, suburban and urban locations, with most responses from old, rural properties.The survey revealed that houses built before 1919 are most important for nesting birds, with Common Swifts and House Sparrows recorded much more frequently than in modern homes. Houses in rural localities were more likely to hold nesting birds than those in urban areas, this being particularly marked for Common Swifts, House Martins and House Sparrows. Houses in which recent roof repairs had been undertaken were less likely to hold nesting Common Swifts and Common Starlings.The roof space or under the eaves were the most commonly reported nest-site locations. Modern houses, particularly in urban areas, are used relatively infrequently by nesting birds.ommon Swifts Apus apus (hereafter referred to as Swifts), House Martins Delichon urbica, Common Starlings Sturnus vulgaris (hereafter referred to as Starlings) and House Sparrows Passer domesticus all nest regularly on or in buildings in the UK. Almost the entire UK population of Swifts nests in buildings, as do most of the House Martins, although a few cliff-nesting colonies still remain (Gibbons et al. 1993). The Homes for Birds survey was launched by the RSPB and the BBC Radio 4 `Today’ programme in

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