Property: The brand new property boom that's gone sky-high

Their attractions include exposed beams, thatched roofs, reclaimed barn boards and baked clay tiles. No double glazing, though, and living tends to be open plan, but there are the communal gardens and - unless there is a squabble over vacant possession - the transaction is usually chain-free. Rosalind Russell takes a peek at bird houses.

Houses for birds, it seems, are every bit as des res as our own. And their potential owners are no less picky than people when it comes to finding exactly the right style, position and facilities.

House-hunting swifts, says the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, fly past a likely nest site brushing the entrance with their wings. Any incumbent responds by screaming vigorously and grappling with its feet until the intruder is ejected. Tits will happily nest next to robins or wrens, but not next to another pair of tits.

Problems with the neighbours are not confined to homo sapiens. As a result, the number and varying design of bird houses to suit all tastes - avian and humans - is remarkable. Whether your home is a Victorian villa or a period thatched cottage, you'll find an annexe for your feathered lodgers that won't upset the planning officer.

The mail order company Presents Direct sells a bird house in kit form, consisting of real miniature bricks and roofing tiles made of baked clay, and with enough mortar to build it, for pounds 24.95 (plus p&p). Just the job for a builder twiddling his thumbs with nothing to do after the New Year when the weather is atrocious.

The Shaker Shop (there are two stores in London and a mail order service) offers folk art bird houses and feeders, made by hand from old materials, including barn boards and tin, collected from farms in Pennsylvania.

The paint finish is aged to give the houses character, although it's unlikely even the most difficult to please bird is going to give a hoot. They are in limited editions and therefore not going cheap. The gazebo bird feeder is pounds 149.95 and the turret house, with several front doors, is pounds 149.95. A more modest little white house is pounds 36.95 and there is a matching restaurant, for days when they just have to eat out, at pounds 29.95.

The RSPB has several pages of houses and feeders in its current catalogue. A plastic, thatch-look cottage bird feeder is the most popular, costing pounds 24.99, but there are nest boxes to suit almost everybody, including house martins.

Designed especially for them, and costing pounds 15.99, the house martin nest has to be installed permanently under the eaves of a house (preferably painted white or cream, they are quite particular about architectural finishes). The idea is to encourage other pairs to build their own nearby, but house martins are as fussy about their wattle and daub as English Heritage. Any old mud will not do. And, as each nest needs a thousand beakfuls of the stuff, a ready supply must be within 200 metres.

CJ Wildbird Foods near Shrewsbury sell a mud pack for martins, consisting of a green tray, a bottle of blue dye and 3kg of mud (pounds 7.99). All you have to do is keep it wet. The dye is added to the mud to make it easier to spot the new building site.

Forsham Cottage Arks in Ashford Kent make bird houses to suit everything from two turtle doves to six geese a-laying. Some, including the Tenterden which has four floors, housing 20 pairs of birds, come into the stately home class of property. Not for the suburban garden, they point out, possibly unnecessarily, as it costs pounds 1,411, delivered but not erected.

Slightly cheaper is the thatched Lamberhurst, pounds 987.60 in white, pounds 897.60 in brown. These cotes are sent to a master thatcher to be thatched. Even an Oriental garden can be accommodated: the Willow, painted red, green or blue, has a pagoda-style roof and costs pounds 728.90 including delivery (less if you collect it yourself).

For tits bringing up their families by the seaside, the red, blue and white painted beacon house from the Maritime Company is one of the most charming B&Bs. The solid wood, 12-inch high bird box, in the shape of a lighthouse costs pounds 14.95, plus p&p.

For the RSPB gift brochure call 01283 506100 (for leaflets on different nest boxes, 01767 680551); Presents Direct, 0171-371 7017; Shaker 25 Harcourt Street, London W1H 1DT, 0171-724 7672, and at 322 Kings Road, SW3 5DU; CJ Wildbird Foods 01743 709545; Forsham Cottage Arks 01233 820229; Maritime Company 01993 770450.

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

    Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

    £70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all