GARDENERS and householders in the Yorkshire Dales are being asked to provide more holes next week - in the form of nesting boxes for breeding birds.
Although it may have passed most people by, Valentine's Day on Sunday is the time of the year when most British birds begin the mating process - but, says the British Trust for Ornithology, there is a chronic shortage of nesting sites for many species of birds that nest in holes.
In 1997, the BTO launched a campaign called National Nest Box Week to persuade people to put up boxes under the slogan "Britain needs more holes." This year, they are repeating the campaign starting Sunday under the slogan "Britain still needs more holes."
One of the causes of the shortage, says the trust, is that DIY programmes on television have made people much keener to get out their ladders and plug any holes under the eaves of their houses, thus depriving birds of their nesting spots.
This, researchers believe, could be one of the reasons for the massive decline in what was once the country's most common bird, the humble house sparrow.