Putting Out Nesting Materials For The Birds

At this time of year, birds are making nests. Putting out nesting materials for the birds to use is a way to help them.

We’ve been putting out sheep’s wool which comes as insulation with our orders from Riverford Dairy. We made a holder by weaving willow and put the sheep’s wool inside it, then we hung it up.

We also put some wool in a terracotta apple holder that came from the RSPB shop and we put some more nesting materials in an old children’s watering can and we hung that up too.

Other things you could use to put nesting materials in are a fat ball feeder, a hanging basket, old shoes, boots or crocs or an old teapot.

Birds have been coming to take some of the wool we put out!

You can help the birds by putting out nesting materials too! Do this quiz to find out what’s safe to put out!

Nesting Materials Quiz

Which of these are good to put out as nesting materials for the birds?

Cotton Wool

Dry grass

Dry leaves

Feathers

Human hair

Knitting wool

Moss

Mud

Pet fur

Sheep’s wool

Straw

Toy stuffing

Tumble dryer fluff

Twigs

Answers

Cotton wool: No! It’s best not to put out cotton wool as the threads are very thin and birds might get tangled up in them.
Dry grass: Yes! Dry grass is a safe nesting material for birds.
Dry leaves: Yes! Dry leaves are safe for birds.
Feathers: Feathers are a safe nesting material for birds and they are nice and soft to keep their babies warm.
Human hair: No! Human hair is dangerous for birds because they can get tangled up in it.
Knitting wool: No! Knitting wool is not safe for birds because they can get tangled up in it and a lot of knitting wool has polyester in which is a type of plastic and is bad for wildlife.
Moss: Yes! Moss is safe for birds and is lovely and soft to keep the babies snuggled!
Mud: Yes! Lots of birds like to use mud to stick their nests together so leaving a muddy patch in your garden is very useful.
Pet fur: No! Pet fur is not usually safe for birds because it might have chemicals like shampoo or flea treatment on. If it definitely doesn’t have any chemicals on then it can be okay.
Sheep’s wool: Yes! Sheep’s wool is safe for birds. It’s soft and good for insulation and can help keep their babies warm and snuggled!
Straw: Yes! Straw is safe for birds to use to build their nests.
Toy stuffing: No! Toy stuffing is made from polyester, which is a type of plastic. Plastic stays in the environment for a very, very long time and is dangerous for wildlife.
Tumble dryer fluff: No! Tumble dryer fluff often has tiny bits of plastic and chemicals in, which are dangerous for wildlife. It also isn’t a good building material because it soaks in water and can fall apart.
Twigs: Yes! Twigs are safe and lots of birds like to use them to build their nests.

We found an old bird’s nest on the ground in our garden underneath a bush.

Here are the things we found in it:
Twigs
Moss
Sheep’s wool
Dry leaves

As well as putting out nesting materials for the birds, it’s a good idea to make sure your garden isn’t too tidy to help the birds find all the things they need by themselves.

Hedgehog House

We made a hedgehog house. We made it using these instructions from the RSPB, but we changed it a bit to give it little legs to raise it up from the ground so the bottom wouldn’t get wet and soggy.

We started off with a big bit of plywood. We made sure we chose plywood from a sustainable source.

Then we measured and cut out the sides, front, back, roof and floor.

We cut a 13cm wide doorway on the front for the hedgehogs to get in and out.

We cut a small hole in the back and put a bit of old pipe in pointing downwards so the rain can’t get in, to let fresh air in.

Then we screwed all the pieces together to make a box. We also made a tunnel for the front to keep it warm and stop predators getting in.

We painted the outside but not the inside with wood treatment to make it last longer. It’s important to use water based wood treatment and not to put any on the inside because that might be bad for the hedgehogs.

We collected lots of dry leaves and put them inside to make a nice bed for the hedgehogs. We screwed some little legs on the bottom and we screwed the lid on so we can take it off again if we need to. We screwed the tunnel on too. Then the hedgehog house was finished!

We put it under a bush in our garden. Then we collected lots of sticks and piled them on top of it and round it to cover it and make it look like a nice home for hedgehogs and to keep it extra warm.

We waited… There was one night when a hedgehog kept looking at it and going in and out. Then the next night it did the same but the last video on our hedgehog camera was a hedgehog going in and not coming out again!

Then the next night the hedgehog woke up inside the hedgehog house and came out!

We hope the hedgehog might find a mate and have babies inside!

You can make a hedgehog house if you like so hedgehogs can hibernate and have babies in there and sleep during the day.

If you want to find out more about how to help hedgehogs, why not play my Hedgehogs Highways board game!

BTO Garden Birdwatch

This year we are doing a survey called the BTO Garden BirdWatch.

The BTO Garden Birdwatch is a survey run by the British Trust for Ornitholgy (BTO). It’s to find out how birds are getting on in gardens. You have to do it every week if possible. You have to count the birds which come to your garden during the week. You count the most of any type of bird you see at any one time. Then you have to submit your results on the BTO’s website. There are also questions about other wildlife in the garden like mammals, insects, amphibians and reptiles.

So far this week we’ve seen: 6 house sparrows, 2 wood pigeons, 2 goldfinches, 2 blue tits, 1 dunnock, 8 starlings, 1 great tit, 2 chaffinches, 2 greenfinches, 2 magpies, 1 blackbird, 2 robins and 1 collared dove. We’ve also seen 1 hedgehog, 1 grey squirrel, 1 cat, 1 unidentified bumblebee, 1 buff-tailed bumblebee and lots of frogspawn.

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On some other weeks we’ve seen a blackcap, a sparrowhawk, a wren, a crow and long-tailed tits.

The BTO Garden Birdwatch is different from the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch because you do it every week and in the Big Garden Birdwatch you only get to put what birds you see in your garden in one hour but in the BTO Garden Birdwatch you get to put on all the birds you see during the week.

The BTO Garden Birdwatch is important because it means they can find out how wildlife is using gardens and how the wildlife living in gardens is changing so they can find out ways to improve the places where people live to help wildlife as much as possible.

If you’ve got a garden, you can take part in the BTO Garden Birdwatch too if you want!

Conservation Crisis

Conservation Crisis is a board game made by Tunza Games. You need to look after a wildlife reserve to try and save an endangered species. But there are poachers!

First you have to choose an animal to save. The choices are elephant, gorilla, rhino and tiger. You start at HQ and you have to go round the board. When you go round the board there’s lots of stuff to buy. Some of the things like vets and habitat restoration give you more wildlife. Some things like backpacker hostels and luxury lodges give you more money. And the rest, like rangers, livelihood programmes and fences help protect the wildlife. Halfway round the board is a poachers’ checkpoint. You can pay a bribe and whoosh straight past but you have to take a card which has bad things on. If you don’t pay a bribe you have to miss a turn while you go through the checkpoint. When you get back to HQ you have to turn over your bribe card if you have one, then you have to take an event card which sometimes has good things and sometimes has bad things, then you get donor funding and wildlife but you have to pay salaries for people like vets and rangers and teachers. Then you can go round the board again and choose more stuff to buy. It keeps happening until somebody gets an event card that says “Crisis averted”. Then the game ends and the person with the most wildlife wins!

I think Conservation Crisis is a brilliant game because you get to experience and learn all about conservation. You learn about the problems for conservation and some of the decisions and choices that have to be made. The problems are things like getting enough money, and poachers are a very big problem. You also learn about how important it is to work with local communities and help them with things like livelihood schemes. Bribes are no good! I especially like being able to choose what things to buy.

You can play Conservation Crisis if you want to! I think you will probably like it!

Carbon City Zero

Carbon City Zero is a board game made by Possible. Possible is a charity who are trying to inspire lots of people to take action on climate change.

In Carbon City Zero you have to work together with the other players. You have to try and reduce the amount of carbon produced by your city. Every player has cards. Some cards have good things on and others have bad things and there are even cards which are a bit bad and a bit good – like factories for example, because they give you money to buy other cards but they do make quite a lot of carbon. The good cards are things which take away carbon like “train not plane”, “car share” and “public awareness”. Some of the bad cards are “greenwashing”, “poor transport” and “corruption”. Most of the bad cards produce carbon and some, like “poor communication”, make the game more difficult to play.

When it’s your turn, you turn over the cards in your hand. Some of them might have money on and you can use them for buying other cards. Some of the cards might have things which reduce carbon production but some of them might have things which make more carbon. At the end of your turn, you have to bring the carbon level up or down depending on how much carbon the cards in your hand produce.

You have to try and get onto zero carbon, but you only have ten turns before your time runs out!

I think Carbon City Zero is an amazing game! I really like being able to plan what to buy. My favourite cards are “lobby ministers” and “bike lanes”. I like “lobby ministers” because I’ve written to my MP and I like “bike lanes” because I like riding my bike and I think there should be more bike lanes everywhere. Mummy likes it because the timer means it doesn’t go on forever! I think it’s a good game for teaching people about some of the changes that can be made to help stop climate change.

You can play Carbon City Zero too if you want to!

Show the Love

Show the Love is organised by The Climate Coalition, which is a big group of people and organisations who are trying to make less climate change. It happens every February and it is a chance to think about the things we love and want to protect from climate change by making green hearts.

We made some green hearts!

We made little green hearts to wear. We used rag rugging, which is a traditional way of recycling where you use scraps of old fabric to make rugs.

We also used rag rugging to make a big green heart to go on our front door. We made a little hessian heart saying “SHOW THE LOVE” in embroidery to go underneath.

We also sent a Show The Love postcard to Andrew Mitchell, who is the MP for Sutton Coldfield, which is where we live. We put on one of our little green heart badges. We all wrote a message saying what we want to protect from climate change. I said endangered species.

You can send a postcard to your MP! You can download a card to print here.

You can also support the Climate Coalition by signing the Declaration for a Healthy, Greener, Fairer Tomorrow.

If you want, you can make some green hearts too!

The CPRE Star Count

Last night we did the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) Star Count.

The Star Count helps to measure light pollution around the UK. We had to go outside on a clear night after 7pm when the stars would be out and wait for a few minutes to get our eyes accustomed to the dark. We had to find the constellation Orion and count how many stars we could see within the rectangle made by the stars at his feet and shoulders. You find Orion by looking for his belt, which is three stars in a row.

We counted 9 stars, which means we have severe light pollution where we live. 0-5 stars would mean very severe light pollution and more than 30 stars would mean truly dark skies. When we were doing our star count I thought the sky looked quite dark but not very dark.

The CPRE has made a map of last year’s results to see how much light pollution there is in different places around the UK. The map shows there’s a lot of light pollution in most places.

Light pollution is bad for wildlife because it confuses nocturnal animals like bats. It affects things like their sleeping and hunting. It can also confuse migrating birds.

The results of the Star Count will help the CPRE talk to local councils and persuade them to take action to make less light pollution.

You can help reduce light pollution and help nocturnal wildlife by turning outside lights off. We used to have an outside light that came on when something moved in front of it, or sometimes when it was just windy, but I told Mummy and Daddy to turn it off when I found out about the problems for bats and they did.

The Star Count runs until 14th February so you can do it too if you want to, but you must be quick!

Helping Wildlife in Cold Weather

When it is cold it’s especially important to make sure there’s water for the animals and birds in your garden because a lot of water might have turned into ice. If the water in your bird baths turns into ice you need to smash it. You can use a stone to smash it and you can pour hot water on to melt it.

We made sure there was plenty of water for the birds and this is what happened!

And it’s extra important to leave out food for the birds because the ground is hard so it will be harder for the birds to find food.

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2021

Today we did the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch.

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch happens on the last weekend in January every year. This year it is January 29th, 30th and 31st.

You have to count the birds in your garden for one hour. You count the most of each kind of bird you see at one time. Then you have to submit the results to the RSPB through their website.

It helps the RSPB find out which garden birds are doing well and which garden birds aren’t doing well. It started in 1979 so it’s been going on for over 40 years. The RSPB can compare all the results from different years to see which birds are going up, which birds are staying the same and which birds are going down.

We saw:
Blue tit: 4
House sparrow: 14
Blackbird: 4
Robin: 1
Starling: 6
Dunnock: 1
Great tit: 1
Goldfinch: 5
Chaffinch: 2
Greenfinch: 2
Wood pigeon: 4

You can take part if you want to! You can find out more here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/

Homemade Bird Feeder Update

Birds have been eating out of the homemade bird feeders we made!

Here are three videos.

The first video is two blue tits eating off the log bird feeder.

Here is the second video. This is on the coconut feeder and a blue tit and a great tit come.

And here is a video of a great tit on one of our yoghurt pot feeders.

You can find out how you can make some homemade bird feeders here!