Wildlife Weekly: Gay Christie reveals the dangers hidden in a nest box...

You might expect that a home in a nest box would be safe.

Before laying eggs parent birds collect a vast amount of dry vegetation to make a cosy nest, and this is usually lined with hairs and feathers.

When chicks hatch they snuggle together for warmth and for the first few days at least one of the parents will brood the chicks, while the other parent delivers food at regular frequent intervals.

But a nest box is not as safe as you might think. Parent birds making regular visits, usually landing on the same nearby perch are easy prey for sparrowhawks and cats.

Some cats even sit on top of the nest box waiting for adult birds to return with food for their hungry youngsters.

Once one of the parents has been killed the survival of the other chicks is in doubt. Half the amount of food isn’t enough to rear healthy birds.

Woodpeckers and squirrels are a problem too. Both of them can enlarge the entrance hole to gain access to the helpless babies. Blue tits and great tits will try to protect their young, but they cannot fight off these larger predators.

We have families of blue tits and great tits in care. Feeding them is constant as every time the nest is disturbed, lots of tiny necks stretch and bright yellow beaks plead for food.

It is a never ending job for a week or two, but well worth the effort when fully feathered birds are ready for release.