Provide nesting material for wild birds
Overall effectiveness category Unknown effectiveness (limited evidence)
Number of studies: 2
Background information and definitions
In some habitats nesting sites may be abundant, but material to create or line nests may be lacking. In these situations, conservationists may wish to provide this material.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, controlled study from September-January in 1989-1990 in 6 experimental and 3 control plots in a wetland in New South Wales, Australia (Baxter 1996) found that four species of egret (great white egret Ardea alba, intermediate egret A. intermedia, little egret Egretta garzetta and cattle egret A. ibis) collected supplementary nest material preferentially from raised platforms over water than from plots on dry land. At all locations over nineteen weeks there was a strong preference for material presented on platforms compared with that presented in supplementation plots (80% compared < 20% of supplementary sticks respectively). The author suggests that nest material supplementation may reduce tree defoliation and lead to enhanced breeding success through fewer eggs and chicks falling out and greater thermal insulation. Sticks (0.3-2 cm diameter, 15-40 cm in length) were provided weekly on 2 x 1.3 m platforms over water and 2 m2 plots on dry land. Control plots (2 m2, 5-15 m away fromStudy and other actions tested
A replicated study from March-July in 1995-1997 in a mixed woodland area containing 20 experimental plots near Glasgow, Scotland (Hansell & Ruxton 2002) found that songbird species used supplementary feathers at very low rates and that nest construction is not resource limited. The mean feather loss per week from experimental plots was 14.4% and only in one week (mid-May) of the study did it rise above 40%. The proportion of marked feathers recovered from nests was 2.8%. A total of 41 nests (from 10 different songbird species) were found. Plots contained 50 marked (unique 2 mm diameter waterproof paint spot/site) feathers (30-50 mm contour feathers from wood pigeons Columba palumbus) placed directly on the ground each week.Study and other actions tested