Category : nest box

A GREAT EXPERIENCE AT SCHOOL

We’d like to share with you the experience we’ve had at the Tudela Veguin School, a little school for the kids from the surrounding area. We planned two workshop sessions with ALL the students: 11 children form pre-school, 12 from the first and second class of primary school and 15 more from third to sixth class of primary school. From the very first moment we felt the headmaster’s enthusiasm, José Manuel: he was thrilled about the workshops, you can say he loves his job.

With such an assorted group of kids we were, let’s put it in good words, a little bit worried. Not to mention the fact of teaching 3 year old kids, who hardly hold their pencils properly!

Intructor speaking at a nest box building workshop

An intructor explains how to build a nest box.

The workshop consisted of two sessions: first day we were building 10 nest boxes, kids divided in two groups: pre-school and first and second classes together and the rest of students in another group. Second day we’d hang three boxes, one per group and chosen by voting. After that, we would go for a birdwatching walk.

From the moment we saw the first kids we started cold sweatting. How would we handle such a disparate group? How could we give our speech and attract their attention with it? And most important, where is the toilet?!?

The school lent us the music classroom and we thought “we’ll need lots of music to calm these beasts”. Along with the kids their teachers came in and, suddenly, the classroom was full of people. We are deeply grateful to the teaching staff, it wouldn’t have been the same without them and their generous contribution.

Kids building nest boxes

Two teachers supervise some kids building nest boxes

Strangely enough, this first stage started very smoothly. We like to alternate video watching with box assemblying in order to make it easy for the kids and trying not to bore them.

As we were progressing with the boxes we were reassuring, we didn’t babble so much and we were able to speak more fluently. Every time we needed some help, there were the teachers, who know deeply these kids. We saw the kids very focused, really on-task! Some of them even had a smile on their faces!

Kids painting nest boxes

Some kids in four groups are painting nest boxes.

Second group was more quiet, so we didn’t take more pills to soothe the stress. They built their boxes really focused and asking lots of questions about the videos they were watching.

Finally, they voted for the nest box they liked the most, which would be hanged on the next session.

Several nest boxes, painted by kids.

Several freshly painted nest boxes.

The second session consisted of two activities: hanging the nest boxes and an introductory walk to birdwatching. This time they split in three groups: pre-school, first and second classes and third to sixth classes.

First shift was for the elders, who were very keen on learning how to use binoculars and enjoyed a lot watching thourgh the telescope. We went back to the school with our mission accomplished: enjoyment and learning all-in-one.

A bunch of kids near a next box hanging on a tree.

A bunch of kids pose nearby their nest box hanged on a tree.

Second shift was easy as well, kids from first and second class at primary school are curious about almost everything. We hanged their nest box in a different tree and fights for being the first to use the telescope began. Luckly for us the teachers kept order and everybody enjoyed birdwatching by using binoculars and the telescope.

A kid looking through the binoculars

A kid is looking through the binoculars while other kid looks at him.

And time came for the little ones. If they can barely hold a pencil, how would they handle with binoculars? How would we explain them how tu use them? How would we explain them how to use a field notebook? Stress was back and this time we didn’t have Trankimazin pills.

Kids learning to use a guide to birds.

Three kids are using a bird guide.

But they wanderfully learnt to use the field notebook and drew trees and big birds on them, which coloured later, back into the classroom. They watched birds with their binculars as well and even with the telescope, we were amazed. We dare to say they enjoyed a lot!

Three little girls using a telescope.

Three little girls looking for birds with binoculars and a telescope.

Once to this point, we had to say goodbye and thank all the teaching staff and José Manuel, the headmaster, for their lovely help. Al last, we could throw away the pills: our legs didn’t tremble as the first day, we got rid of the fear!

It has been a great experience for everyone: kids, teachers and, above all, for us.

HAVE A NEST BOX IN YOUR LIFE

Urban pressure and changes in landscape have reduced the chances of many animals to find places to install their nests or lairs to breed. At this very moment, is our time to spring into action and do something to balance out the situation.

How can we help? Building and hanging nest boxes. That way, we will provide animals with a safe place for their nests, where they’d raise their offspring with less risk.

Nest boxes

Nest boxes for birds

But, which are the advantages of placing these boxes? there are several and all of them really interesting:

– we provide birds and bats a safe place for nesting and raising their brood and a refuge against predators.

– we promote biological control of pests, reducing the use of chemical products, such as insecticides and rodenticides (rat poison).

– we’ll have the opportunity to obvserve closely the birds and their routines (but always without interfearing!!)

– we contribute to environmental education by increasing people’s awareness about how to help preserving the environment.

Perhaps you didn’t know, but a pair of barn swallows are capable of take big ammounts of flying insects on the wing!! Can you imagine how many mosquitoes’ they spare you from? Well, it’s the same with bats since they also feed on insects. When we hang nest boxes, so they manage to breed and to hide out, we are helping them with their offspring and they are helping us! Interesting, isn’t it?

In the same way, insectivourous birds are also really helpful to agriculture. There are scientific studies which confirm that the placing of nest boxes near crop fields allowed for reducing the application of insecticides. This is very good for us: less chemical products over the fields, less chemical products into our bodies.

Nest boxes

Nest box for starlings – Nest box for bats

In addition, if you like to watch birds coming in and out of their nests, carrying food for their chicks, a nest box will ease you these observations! You will witness this feeding process and you’ll witness

In addition, if you like to watch birds’ life, a nest box will make these observations much easier. You will see parents coming in and out with food for their chicks and you will also have front row sits to witness their first flights! Now, remember that we must NEVER interfer with our winged friends’ lifes and neither we should open the boxes during the Spring. And by no means we should grab or even touch the little babies. Parents might get scared with your presence and could abandon the nest… and this would be a disaster!!

Starling with bait and a chick

Starling with bait and a chick in a nest box.

So, join us to build a nest box and hang it next to your place, where you can observe it. Besides, if you like takin pictures o drawing this will be a unique opportunity!

MARZO ÑERARZO, ABRIL HUEVERIL AND MAYO PAJARAYO

There is a proverb in Asturias that says “Marzo ñerarzo, Abril hueveril y Mayo pajarayo”, which means “in March nests, in April eggs and May chicks”. (Please notice that ñerarzo, hueveril and pajarayo are words from the Asturian dialect)

Well, it is totally untrue: around here, birds are in a non-stop “brooding mode”. It is true that this winter has been very mild, almost a toy, and this has provided the birds coming earlier into heat as well as with nests and broods. Moreover, we are in June and we have seen the second covey of mallards which, by the way, have a hard time keeping together their offspring.

Mallard

A couple of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos)

 

Some of them live in the Güeña River, in its way through Cangas de Onís, giving that the river is channeled. But they love to sniff around, even though they have to cross the road nearby as best they can. A few weeks ago we had to stop the transit trying to gather together a mallard family. We were afraid of them being run over and turned into sliced duck. What a beautiful scene we made, running after six little ducks… hopefully there was anybody filmming! I don’t know why people call “duck” to someone clumsy (at least in Spain)… what a way to run! When we could finally gather the family and

Finally we got the family gathered and we were talking proudly about our efforts with an old woman who had been watching us, when suddenly she drove us to ruin: “this morning she had ten or twelve chicks, I don’t know where they could be”. The only thing we could think about, with our hearts pounding, was hoping they had managed to reach the river. It so happens that we did not see them anymore, so our legs were extremely grateful…

Besides mallards, we have pinpointed a whote-throated dipper’s nest. They are said to be bioindicators who only inhabit rivers with high quality waters. And this river has them, no doubt, since they are frequently seen. This pair of dipper have raised the second brood of bioindicators and they are alredy looking for accomodation.

White-throated dipper

White-throated dipper (Cinclus cinclus)
Photo courtesy of Ana Míngues Corella.

 

But barn swallows are the most remarkable case. In front of our home there is a stable, with its cows and all that stuff. The owner sais that they are able to raise three broods in good years and this is what happened this year: we’ve seen some swallows incubating the third clutch. They make the most of the heat inside the cowshed as well as of the food that cows provide them: an insectivourous diet just right next to their nests. With such attractions they can not say “no”.

Barn swallow

Four barn swallow chicks into their nest.

 

At the beginnig of the Spring you could see a few swallows but now they are everywhere. They fly at full speed, some of them learning to avoid obstacles and to take flying insects on the wing. At this rate, they will eat all the flies and mosquitoes in the area… good neighbours!!

 

READY, STEADY… OPENING!!

Hello everyone and welcome! We are starting a new project with a clear objective: bring you closer to Mother Nature, showing you how you can contribute to her preservation by interacting with Her.

You can find us right next to Picos de Europa, in a place where Mountains and the Sea come together. Our experiences will be shaped by the forests that surround us.

lago Ercina

Oaks, hazels, chestnut trees, sycamores and hollies are close to our homes and they provide shelter to a huge variety of birds, insects, amphibians and mammals. We are delighted just going out and taking a simple walk!

 

camachuelo 2

Through our social networks we will keep you updated with our posts describing the incredible things that our little winged friends will be doing.

During the summer, we offer the families who visit Cangas de Onís and its surroundings two different workshops: one about birdwatching and the other about nest boxes. With the first one you will learn how to identify the little birds around us, while with the second you will learn how to build a fantastic nest box.

We hope that you find our project as attractive and fascinating as we do. In the same way, we’d be pleased to share with you the privilege of enjoying what we love the most.