1. Install a nestbox camera before the breeding season starts and watch the chicks develop on your TV, DVD player or computer. A huge range of cameras is now available. Choosing the right specification really depends on the type of images you want to get (black-and-white or colour), whether you want a wireless or trailing wire set-up and, of course, your budget – nestbox cameras cost anywhere between about £40 and £270. You can buy the camera separately or a nestbox and camera combined. Some provide infra-red images, video and sound, and may feature an illuminated nest chamber.
2. Take part in the BTO’s Nest Box Challenge and monitor the success of nesting pairs in your garden. You can register your nestbox online: www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/nbc
3. Keep a diary of the comings and goings in one nestbox over a breeding season to record which birds are using it and the progress of any nests. Keep a pair of binoculars handy near a window so that you don’t miss anything.
4. Erect a nestbox for an elderly neighbour or relative to introduce them to their local wildlife. They’ll love watching the flurry of activity as the birds rear their young.
5. Make your own nestbox – you can find instructions for making a small one (for tit species) or a small open-fronted nestbox (for robins) at www.bto.org/nnbw/make.htm