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Adopt a Box

Not only is Adopt a Box a brilliant way to support and learn about wildlife and a scheme to provide nesting sites for our beleaguered wild birds of prey, but did you know it is also a way we contribute to science?

Where access and resources allow, Adopt a Box nest boxes are visited annually, not just once to determine whether any maintenance will be needed, or to whether any birds are using/nesting in them, but on a number of occasions throughout the breeding season. Visits are made by specially trained and, where necessary, licenced nest recorders, working voluntarily for Hawk and Owl Trust. Some nest boxes are fitted with nest cameras, and these can be monitored minimising any disturbance to the nest.

barn owl ringing. sculthorpe 040711 6This monitoring allows us to find out how many eggs were laid (and when), how many of those eggs hatched and how many of the chicks eventually fledge, adding to the knowledge of nesting success and the causes of any problems.

Dates of laying may change depending on weather conditions, for instance, or there may be other factors affecting the start of the breeding season. The information collected can also enable scientists to compare the habitats surrounding successful and unsuccessful nests. By monitoring regularly and year to year adverse changes in breeding success can be spotted before population declines become obvious.

All the information gathered is fed into the national Nest Record Scheme (find out more about it here) and records from our Adopt a Box boxes help to make a significant impact on the numbers of records submitted for the species we cover.

As well as nest monitoring, some nests have their chicks ringed by licenced, trained bird ringers. Individually numbered tiny metal rings are carefully attached to the leg of each chick, meaning that if the bird is ever captured or found injured or dead at some time in the future we can individually identify it and know how far it has travelled and how long it has lived. Some birds, including chicks from our Peregrine nesting platforms are also fitted with larger plastic (darvic) rings with letters which can easily be read by telescope or be seen on nest cams, meaning the bird can be individually identified and followed through its life without further direct human contact. It is this colour ring for instance, that let’s us know that the female Peregrine on the Norwich cathedral nest platform was actually hatched at our Bath platform several years previously. 

If you are interested in getting involved with monitoring Adopt a Box nest boxes, let us know!

More in this category: « Wildlife surveys at Shapwick