Action for nest boxes for house sparrows and swallows on the Walk of Wisdom

House sparrows and swallows have had a hard time in recent years and that is why we are starting a campaign with the Bird Working Group Nijmegen and surroundings to hang nesting boxes for them. With money we saved last year (€600,-) we buy special, robust nesting boxes that we give to the stops where pilgrims pick up their bird rings . We hope that the owners themselves and their supporters will buy a few more!

An interview with Jochem Kuhnen, the nest box specialist of the Bird Working Group.

Why is it necessary?

“The house sparrows and swallows are having a hard time because their nesting opportunities have become increasingly poor in recent decades. During renovations, private individuals and housing associations close all cracks and openings – exactly the places where these birds built their nests. For example, I remember that in Neerbosch-Oost (Nijmegen) where I grew up, many sparrows and swifts flew around, a strong and beautiful childhood memory. The district has been renovated: nothing flies anymore.

Oops, that’s only going to get worse with all the climate measures, isn’t it?

“No, you don’t have to. Housing associations are starting to take this into account. During a renovation, they hang nesting boxes. Increasingly, the ‘bird scrap’, which is used to prevent birds from nesting under the roof tiles, is only applied to the second row of tiles. There is more and more awareness and every action helps.”

The nesting boxes you want to hang are quite expensive. Why is that necessary?

“Cheap nesting boxes in garden centres are made of bad wood and run out after a few years. In addition, birds have preferences that have not been taken into account in many of those hives.

For example, sparrows and swallows prefer not to have the opening in the middle, but as far away from the nest as possible. This is out of reach of birds of prey such as the sparrowhawk, which chases the creatures and grabs the hive with its claws. Opportunists such as the magpie or crow do not hunt, but if it is easy to do so, they will pull a young bird out of the nest without scruples.

A really good nest box takes this into account and is made of wood concrete, a mixture of concrete and wood fibers. Such a cabinet will last as long as your house and is therefore very durable. Normally, a wood-concrete nesting box costs €30,-, but if we buy a lot of them with this promotion, we’ll probably get a discount.”

Many bus stops have catering facilities, do those cabinets cause nuisance?

“It is precisely the small, building-bound birds that are experienced as sociable by customers. A group of chirping sparrows flying around frisky is a free attraction that is appreciated by many people.”

Jochem himself has hung almost ten nesting boxes under his gutter. He blocked the opening of a few of them in March to keep them free for the annual returning swallows. The other hives are in use by the sparrows. So it works.

We are now going to approach the bus stops with the offer and are curious about their reaction. To be continued!

Do you also want a wood-concrete nesting box for a house sparrow or swallow and do you live on the route? Contact Damien ([email protected]) or a staging post to ask if they would like to participate, so that you can order a cabinet at a discount.

Nesting boxes for house sparrows and swifts at Jochem’s home