Years ago, we had a wooden nest box that was used regularly by the blue tits in our garden but it eventually proved itself not to be woodpecker-proof. On seeing a woodpecker industriously enlarging the hole in the front of the box we had to make emergency repairs with gaffer tape, which also deterred the woodpecker so the tits could fledge. We replaced the damaged wooden box with a woodcrete one, and the blue tits came back every year until three years ago when we noticed that nuthatches had moved in.
This year’s brood of nuthatches was doing well until we noticed that the local magpies, which have increased in number in recent years, were paying a lot of unwelcome attention. Eventually, a magpie swooped and came away with a chick in front of our eyes and we could see that if we didn’t do something drastic the rest would most likely go the same way. With all the hardware shops still under lockdown we had to come up with a solution from what had in the back of the workshop, the best of which turned out to be a remnant of old wooden trellis. The remaining chicks kept quiet while this was wired to the front of the box so the magpies couldn’t get their heads so far in.
When the parents came back to continue feeding the brood they weren’t put off by our presence a few yards away, but they were temporarily flummoxed by the new obstacle. Our worries that they may give up on the nest were unfounded though, because after a bit of tentative experimenting they found how to approach and continue feeding. We saw no magpie activity for the rest of the week and when we eventually found the box empty we were confident that it was because the chicks had all fledged.