Bird nest-boxes can be useful to birds and other wildlife during winter as well as during the nesting season. Now's the time to get them ready.
One of my nest-boxes furnished with some clean straw - ready for winter guests.
It's very satisfying when the nest-boxes we put up for our garden birds are used to raise young, but with a little bit of management, we can help to make them useful year-round sanctuaries.
During very cold nights, nest-boxes may be used by birds for roosting. I once heard a story that someone had witnessed several dozen wrens emerging from a nest-box after a particularly cold winter night.
When I cleaned one of my own nest-boxes out this spring in readiness for the nesting season, I found two drone-flies which had presumably hibernated there (I managed not to disturb them).
To ready a nest-box for winter use by birds and other animals, firstly remove the remains of any nests which were built and used during the summer. This old nesting material can harbour pests and diseases which are harmful to roosting birds. Once the box is empty, put some clean straw inside to improve the insulation, but don't pack it so tightly that there's no room for the birds! Next spring this material can be removed in readiness for nesting birds.