This Valentine’s Day, the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) in Northern Ireland is urging everyone in Mid-Ulster to show a little love to our feathered friends.
National Nest Box Week runs from February 14-21 and marks one of the last opportunities to put up homes for birds before the nesting season begins.
Different species have different needs when it comes to nest boxes – one size definitely doesn’t fit all! For example, swallows and house martins need cup shaped nests placed high up to ensure their broods can be fed easily and safely. However, other birds like robins, wrens and blue tits need an enclosed box to help keep away predators.
With such mild winter weather this year, food supplies in the open countryside have been relatively abundant so you might not have seen as many birds visiting your garden as in previous years. But with stormy conditions and frequent cold snaps during early Spring, having a cosy nest box to raise their new family can mean the difference between life and death for many birds.
Regularly providing a supply of high energy food, like suet balls, and clean water for bathing and drinking will ensure your garden is the perfect spot for new parents to bring up their brood.
Many people aren’t aware that all wild birds, their nests and eggs are protected by law. It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly kill, injure or handle any wild bird, or to take or destroy their nests or eggs. Remember, whilst a bird is using or building a nest, you must not damage or disturb it.
PAW Northern Ireland is made up of representatives from organisations involved in wildlife protection, including the PSNI, RSPB NI, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and the Northern Ireland Bat Group.
For additional advice contact NIEA Wildlife Team on 028 9056 9551 or, if you suspect a wildlife crime has taken place, report it immediately to the PSNI on 0845 600 8000.