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Planet Care

364: Nesting Boxes

Problem:

Industrialization, deforestation and other human activities since the mid-20th century have caused severe declines in birds’ natural habitats, introducing hurdles to breeding.

For example, the evaluation of threatened bird species in Finland was updated in 2015 under the coordination of the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE. The evaluation concluded that overall the populations of Finnish bird species are on the decline.

The number of threatened bird species increased by 28 compared to the previous evaluation, while 21 new species were red-listed. The availability of suitable holes has greatly decreased in Finnish forests, and without access to a hole or a bird box many birds simply fail to nest. As such, providing birds with bird boxes is a great way to help them.

Solution:

A nest box can help prevent bird extinction. The species that use nest boxes and platforms are diverse. Many species of owls, bats, wrens, bluebirds, chickadees, American Kestrels, Purple Martins, and many more will use nest boxes of various sizes because they mimic cavity nests they would find in the wild.

In 1915, following publication of the US Department of Agriculture’s “Farmer’s Bulletin 609, “Bird Houses and How to Build Them”, an estimated 50 million boxes were built.

Sixty years later, since January 1975, thanks to the initiative of Mary Marlar, the Northern Neck Audubon Society (NNAS) has been constructing and distributing bluebird nest boxes (also known as bluebird houses) to make up for the loss of natural sites for blue birds depleted by logging and other development activities in the Virginian community. Over ten years, NNAS has built and sold around 1,000 nesting boxes a year.

In March 2015, the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle launched the One Million Bird Boxes campaign, which is set to introduce one million new bird boxes to Finnish trees by the end of May 2017.

A million bird boxes would provide homes to ten million hatchlings, motivate people to do hundreds of thousands of outdoor treks and create a veritable symphony of congratulatory chirping to commemorate Finland’s centenary.

During the first few weeks after launch nearly 300,000 bird boxes already registered to the campaign with people from all over Finland taking the challenge to build bird boxes, from the capital Helsinki all the way to northernmost Lapland.

Over 40 bird boxes were hung in the garden of the President’s official residence. Many cities also gave their citizens permission to hang bird boxes in parks and other city-owned recreational areas. The campaign proved more than successful with over 1.3 million nest boxes registered by May 21. (yle.fi)

In France, winegrowers from the Clairette de Die appellation with the support of the Vercors Natural Park, built and installed 800 nest boxes on their 40 hectares of land. The nesting birds fed on the insects in the vines eliminating the need for insecticide.

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