After spending the last few months focusing their efforts on making it through the winter, from February onwards, birds begin to turn their attention to starting a family.
Across the country, birds are searching for a mate and beginning to prepare the nests in which they will raise their young and you can give them a helping hand.
You can help birds at this time of year by installing a nest box in your garden, providing them with a place to lay their eggs and raise their chicks.
As well as allowing you to witness birds raising a family on your doorstep, this is also massively important to many species' survival, as natural nesting sites, such as holes in old trees and buildings, are fast disappearing across the UK.
Things to think about
So, what should you think about when installing a nesting box? The first thing to consider is the kind of birds you're hoping to attract. If you have a specific species in mind, investing in a specialist nest box is wise. Alternatively, you can install a general nest box and see which birds take advantage. Putting up boxes of varying sizes will increase the chances of more birds nesting in your garden - take a look at our guide to see which sizes are right for which birds.
When installing a nest box, the location is very important. It needs to be sheltered from the weather and difficult for predators, such as cats and squirrels, to reach. The ideal height for a nest box is generally accepted as between 1.5 and 5.5 metres. You should also ensure there is nothing nearby that predators could use to climb up and reach the box.
Nest boxes should face north through east to south-east in order to keep out prevailing winds and strong sunlight. If possible, placing a box close to vegetation, such as climbing plants, is ideal, as this provides both cover and makes things easier for young birds when they leave the nest for the first time.
Patience is a virtue
Once your box is installed, you may need to be patient. Birds can't afford to be blase about where they raise their young and it may take a little while before they accept your box as a suitable site. However, the rewards of seeing new life start in your garden make the waiting more than worthwhile.
If you already have boxes, make sure to clean them out ahead of the nesting season. As you can imagine, raising a brood of chicks can be a messy business and a clean box is for more likely to attract new inhabitants.
Remember, you can give birds a massive helping hand during nesting season by providing them with a regular supply of food. Not only do they have to find food for themselves, but their chicks too, so garden feeders can make a real difference at this time of year. Live food is particularly important, as it provides the vital proteins young chicks need to grow.
(Images from iStock SteveByland and VictorTyakht)