One of the many pleasures of working at Terre des 2 Sources is that the little valley our domaine resides in teems with the abundance of nature (which was the inspiration of our bird-themed labels, like for our Amourettes line). There are two tree-lined streams running past the vineyards that are home to many forms of wildlife, meaning that a visit to the domaine is an opportunity to encounter all sorts of creatures...
While we appreciate all our wild visitors (with perhaps the exception of the wild boar, which in one study were found to eat almost 200 kg of grapes per hectare- the equivalent to over 180 bottles of wine!), we are very fond of birds of prey. Partly because their habitat is under threat, but mostly because they are beautiful and magnificent animals.
With this in mind, Glen set about to build some nesting boxes that could be put up around the property, in the hopes that we could give some birds another reason to stick around the area.
The first step was to choose which birds we wanted to attract, because the nesting box design varies with which birds you want to build a home for. Kestrels are fierce hunting birds and populations are under pressure due to loss of natural habitat, so this was chosen as a starting point. It turns out that these nesting boxes should also appeal to smaller types of owls, which is a bonus as far as we're concerned!
We needed to use untreated wood for the nests, and we wanted to do our part to re-use old materials, so Glen took apart some palettes, and though the dimensions of the planks wasn't ideal, with a bit of extra work they could be used...
After a bit of searching, Glen found a couple of reliable sources of information about nesting box construction, one from his alma mater Oregon State University and the other from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Using this information and roughly following the plan in Figure 9 of the Natural Resources Conservation Service guide, he cut enough wood to make two boxes of the same dimensions.
Because the pallet wood wasn't wide enough, the planks were assembled using a variety of screws, which were scavenged from discarded furniture and the like.
Almost all the parts of the two nesting boxes made - backs, sides, roofs. The bottoms were made after the rest was assembled so they could be crafted for a secure fit.
Mounting the sides to the back of the box
Getting closer!! Sides and roof attached to the back, with the front plate (before the access hole was cut) assembled.
Putting the bottom in place - you can see that the back is longer than the box so that mounting points can be added.
The finished product! Even one of our chickens, Kesha, is taking a closer look!
The next question is where to put the boxes. The guides say that they should be at least 2 metres off the ground: more depending on what sort of bird you're hoping to attract. It shouldn't be exposed to the hot afternoon sun, and is best in a sheltered place where rain can't be blown in through the entrance hole. Apparently, birds don't like their house entrances to face into the wind in any case!
It's also nice for it to be in a place where you can keep an eye on who's visiting! 👀
With this in mind, two locations were found...
Nest 1 in place - this is positioned right next to the Alzon river (which is just visible in the left hand side of the photo), near our Sauvignon blanc block.
Nest 2 is mounted further upstream, between one of the big fields and the Alzon river, which is just behind the tree.
And now, the waiting game begins to see if anyone takes a liking to these houses!
For more information about the kinds of birds that might use these nesting boxes, including photos an audio of their calls, follow these links...