Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Reduce competition between species by providing nest boxes

How is the evidence assessed?

Study locations

Key messages

A replicated, controlled study from the USA found that providing extra nest boxes did not reduce the rate at which common starlings Sturnus vulgaris usurped northern flickers Colaptes auratus from nests.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, controlled study from March-July in 1994-1996 in 40 experimental and 14 control sites of northern flicker Colaptes auratus nest cavity and nest box pairs in Ohio, USA (Ingold 1998) found that the provision of nest boxes do not deter common starlings Sturnus vulgaris from usurping flicker nest cavities. Overall, 68% of experimental flicker sites lost a total of 42 cavity-nests to starlings in spite of the presence of a nearby flicker nest box, and nine of these pairs lost two or more cavities to starlings. Flicker pairs with starlings fledged significantly less young than pairs without starlings (20% compared to 36% respectively). Flicker pairs without starlings produced significantly larger clutches than pairs with starlings (7.4 compared to 5.4 eggs / nest). Only one flicker pair nested in a nest box rather than a nest cavity. Nest boxes were installed within 0.5-2.0 m of all flicker cavities. Starlings were present in experimental but not control sites.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Bird Conservation. Pages 137-281 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

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Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
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