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The Network

The Pied Flycatcher is a migratory woodland bird that breeds in northern Europe and winters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a well studied species because they very readily use nest boxes, making monitoring easy as well as offering a safe place to nest. Studies of Pied Flycatchers were amongst the first to show how climatic change can affect bird breeding success, through missing the optimal window for breeding because of advancing spring weather and caterpillar emergence (the so called the trophic match-mismatch theory).

PiedFly.Net was initiated in 2011 and currently has 48 participating nest box schemes. Coverage is particularly comprehensive across the woodlands of Dartmoor and Exmoor but schemes are spread across much of the remaining ancient oak woodland of Devon and Somerset. Many schemes have been running for decades, the earliest was started in 1955, making this one of the longest running nest box schemes in the UK.

Each nest box scheme has 20-250 nest boxes. During the breeding season nest boxes are checked weekly and their contents recorded. From this monitoring we are able to monitor long term trends in occupancy, timing of breeding and nest success. In total more than 3000 nest boxes and 350 pied flycatcher nesting attempts are monitored annually, mainly by groups of volunteers. Nestlings and adults are ringed at the majority of schemes, enabling more detailed research and monitoring to be undertaken.