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Sparrow standing on perch

Do bird boxes need a perch

Attractive as they may be, bird boxes made with a perch can be a tempting prospect as the design in enduring; but there are consequence.

Bird boxes in your garden do not ever need a perch to assist small garden birds entering the hole. The presence of a perch will only help predatory larger birds to enter the box with ease to then steel the eggs. If your bird box has a perch you should remove it or buy a new box.

If you're in the market for a brand new wooden bird box, a carefully positioned perch can be an alluring feature of your required box.

But stop there, much as perches make the box more attractive, they will only serve to help predators access the box.

The RSPB take seriously the construction of there own bird boxes, which you will never find one with a perch attached.

As they explain; do not fix a perch to the front of the bird box as it will encourage intruders.

They're of course talking about larger predatory birds where the perch will assist them accessing the box interior to steel eggs to feed.

Do not fix a perch on the front of any box, as this will encourage intruders. Birds don't need a perch in order to use the box - RSPB

If you're thinking about fixing a bird box then you've come to us at a good time; know this advice should be taken seriously, as you know now not to purchase one with a perch.

If you have one though it might be wise to remove that perch by cutting it off, or replacing it by buying a new bird box altogether.

Deter larger birds

Perches facing out on front of bird boxes only serve to help predatory larger birds get a foothold to steal eggs from within the box.

Small garden birds such as Tits and Sparrows can manage just fine without use of a perch as they have the grip to cling onto most surfaces, especially that of wood.

If you have a wooden bird box with a perch then you just might be an unexpected enabler due to the quite innocent, but often deadly dowel that's fixed near the hole.

Possible large bird eggs thieves in the UK are are crows, magpies, ravens, jays and jackdews. If these birds are present in your garden then eggs will be in danger.

But you can do one something to prevent this ever happening.

Only put up a bird box - without a perch - with an entrance hole no larger than 25mm.

Cut the perch off

If your bird box is made from wood, coincidently so is the perch, the wisest thing to do would be to remove the perch from the box.

Do this when the box is not in use at the end of October, September time, but never before when its occupied as this will only scare away the occupants.

If you've bought the wooden bird box from a reputable manufacturer of boxes then you will find they never develop there boxes with a perch.

However, those that do usually have little knowledge about caring for nesting bird boxes, and are absolutely wrong to fix a perch to a bird box to begin with.

If this relates to your bird box and you've already spent good many on it, then remove it.

As its wood you could remove this as its often a 'made from soft wood perch' by cutting it off with a saw, tenant saw, chop saw or why not use a bread knife from your kitchen.

Washing it thoroughly after use of course.

Replace your bird box

Bird boxes made from wood are quite solid these days, built with remarkable craftsmanship; resulting in it being indestructible

So the option to remove the sticking out perch may not always be an option.

What can you do?

That's easy, its time to replace the bird box you have in your garden with a band new one, and one without a perch.

That would require you replacing the box by removing it from its current position to be replaced with a new, commerically available bird box.

There's really no need to remove the fixings to the wall or fence, keep it there as its usually a standard fixing on boxes now so the new box can be hung to the old spot.

If you're replacing a box or buying a new one, try to make it one from noticeable makers; ChapelWood, Kingfisher or Wildlife World.

Though bare in mind all manufacturers mentioned do offer boxes with perches, so don't be tempted with the often unique, beautiful design these boxes have.

If ever in doubt, always make your bird box a certified RSPB one.

When its acceptable

If you're lucking enough to have a garden with no predatory birds near by (which is highly unlikely) then you may be able to use a bird box with a perch.

However, if you've had a bird box sited in a suitable spot in your garden for many years without issues, then you may be fine to carry on as it is.

You must use your initiative here on whether your bird box has unwanted visitors by larger birds.

If you're a regular viewer of the box to see if small garden birds have taken to it - to nest or simply roost - then you should determine if crows, ravens and even magpies have stopped by to access the inside.

If you don't take much notice who comes and goes then maybe you don't know if there eggs have been taken, so maybe its not acceptable to keep the perch in place.

Summery

With no perch fixed to the front of a bird box it will not for certain deter predatory birds, its still quite possible for larger birds to steel eggs with or without out use of a perch.

One way they can do this is enter a bird box with a large 28mm to 45mm entrance hole, with the latter big enough for squirrels to access the box.

Take the advice from the RSPB by not using a bird box with a perch whatsoever, doing so will only attract unwanted attention by larger birds.

If your bird box as a perch you could simply remove it with use of a saw out of your shed or use a suitable kitchen knife.

Though you will have to chisel or sand back any wooden dowel/perch that will absolutely remain once its cut off; its not always possible to remove it all by one cut.

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