During the winter months birds need somewhere to shelter and the providing places to roost can literally save lives.

Food is increasingly hard to come by and they are expending energy in the search for food and in keeping warm.

Overnight many birds huddle together in tree roosts or nesting boxes, so, if you want to do more than provide food and water, provide shelter too, in the form of nest boxes and roosting pouches.

This is the best time of year to clear out your nest boxes. Don’t be alarmed if you find unhatched eggs or the remains of youngsters. Sad as this is, birds produce as many young as possible to counter the inevitable losses.

Disinfect the boxes with boiling water then replace, checking that they are still out of reach of predators.

Roosting pouches are increasingly popular as they are inexpensive. They’re typically made from woven straw, hay or wicker and, consequently are well insulated.

Although it’s not strictly necessary it make sense to add a layer of hay, dried grass or wood shavings to nest boxes and pouches to help them be even more comfortable and warm in winter weather. Avoid sawdust as it holds moisture.