In preparation for National Nest Box Week commencing next week on Valentine's Day, and lasting until 21st February, I focused last weeks' workshop on British Bird Conservation.
One in four birds in the UK are now on the Red List of Conservation Concern and some of these; puffins, turtle doves, pochards and Slavonian grebes are nearing worldwide extinction (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34664385). Birdlife in the UK needs help, but that's not to say that the 67 Red Listed birds are not beyond hope; we can help turn their fortunes around with a little love and care (https://www.rspb.org.uk/join-and-donate/donate/appeals/red-alert/).
In February male birds such as House Sparrows, which are of conservation concern, begin marking out their territories ready for the mating and nesting season. Natural food supplies are likely to be in short supply, especially when deep frosts persists and natural nest sites - such as holes in trees and buildings - are quickly disappearing because people carry out home and garden improvements, plus wooded areas are being tidied up, taking away the little bird's homes (https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/conservation/conservation-and-sustainability/farming/advice/helping-species/tree-sparrow/).
The children enjoyed drawing nest boxes and birds with me but found it easier to say bird box, rather than nest box. House sparrows, blue tits, chaffinches and greenfinches - all of which come into our gardens - were chatted about, and after a slight prompting, the kids began to tell me how small birds need nest boxes for shelter and warmth. Two little girls even drew their own bird boxes to take home for their parents, which impressed me.
At the end of the workshop, we went into the garden where Mrs Casey showed the children and me, several nest boxes already in place at Mad Hatter's. It meant that the little ones were able to watch birds flying in and out of nest boxes, and listen for their beautiful birdsong.
The seeded heart-shaped bird food that Mrs Casey had also made with the children, was aptly timed and perfect for hanging from tree branches in their delightful garden.
As National Nest Box Week Commences on the same date as Valentine's day – a day when not just love birds pair up - isn't it marvellous that we're allowed to help local birds, by putting up nest boxes in our green spaces, or even buying one as a gift for a 'special friend'?! I bought one for my favourite little people which we are going to hang in our garden on 14th February. What an innovative way of showing mother nature some love on valentine's day, whilst contributing to conservation efforts promoting diversity of the nation's wildlife.