LOOKING for a last minute Christmas present for conservation minded friends? Then why not give them some pretty birds for company next year?
The British Trust for Ornithology is urging gardeners and landowners to put up many more nesting boxes later this winter to deal with a massive avian housing shortage.
The reason: in it annual census of bird populations, the BTO has discovered that 2004 provided a super breeding season for blue tits. And in the next few weeks, last summer's fledglings will begin to look for their own "starter homes" to bring up families of their own come spring.
However, because of the numbers involved, there will be an acute shortage of nesting spaces. So a nesting box would not only help homeless birds but would help fill a garden next summer with some of Britain's most colourful and agile creatures.