With the recent rain and wind, the thoughts of many animal-lovers no doubt turned to the wild animals and stray pets that had to endure the dramatic weather. Among the most vulnerable animals at this time are birds.
Many homes are already providing food and water for birds in their gardens each winter and another way to support them is by providing safe and suitable nest boxes for them ahead of the spring breeding season to raise their young.
BirdWatch Ireland has teamed up with the Heritage Officer network to share some resources that allow anyone to create a makeshift home for these creatures in their gardens. The templates on its website will encourage more biodiversity and will guide anyone making wooden nest boxes for barn owls, sparrows, robins and even bats.
Each PDF guide features installation tips to help you correctly position each box to provide safe nesting opportunities for target species and increase the chances of uptake. The garden bird nest box plans are ideal for a number of common garden bird species including blue tits and starlings while the plans for the outdoor barn owl nest box and the bat roost box will help you to safely accommodate these creatures in your garden.
It comes as research by BirdWatch Ireland found goldfinch have shown the biggest increase in Irish gardens in recent years. In the mid-1990s they were in around 30% of gardens, but they are now seen in over 85% of gardens each winter.
“Birds have evolved over time from nesting in cavities in trees and other naturally occurring niches to also nesting in man-made structures and nest boxes we have provided for them,” BirdWatch Ireland said.
“It’s great for us because we can attract them to our gardens to nest and observe them all the way from selecting a nest site, nest building, laying and incubation to feeding the young and finally with luck, fledging!
“Nest boxes however are not just for our enjoyment, they can be an important conservation tool helping to provide much-needed nest sites for species who struggle to find more natural nest sites such as Barn Owls!
“As the BirdWatch Ireland motto states 'protecting birds and biodiversity', we have also illustrated plans for a bat roost box. The “Kent” bat box is a proven and easy to build roost box that can accommodate a number of roosting bats and be mounted on walls or trees easily depending on the local circumstance.”
- The nest box designs can be downloaded from the BirdWatch Ireland Website here