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Reincarnating unwanted wood as conservation joy

Tree sparrows are a red listed species that struggle mainly because of the changes in farming practices and land management that have happened in recent decades. At WWT Caerlvaerock, we’ve been running a farmland bird project for a number of years and carrying out more serious monitoring in the last two. The changes we’ve seen in tree sparrows have been really positive: an increase in numbers of breeding pairs as well as fledglings. But it takes us a lot of work.

We’ve spent the autumn planning where we are going to put our newest colonies and how much wood we will need to build their boxes. Just as we were resigning ourselves to the fact that we would have to buy lots of new wood, someone (thank you Audrey Brown) contacted us and generously offered some wood offcuts for free, mostly cladding of the kind you’d find on a house. Of course, we jumped at this kind donation! With a little tweaking to the design, this wood was totally useable as tree sparrow box parts.

nest boxes collage.pngLeft: a close up of the cladding. You can clearly see the ridges. Right: a completed nest box.

Here at Caerlaverock, we are big advocates for sustainable sourcing and using of materials. This wood could have been thrown away or burnt but we have been able to give it another life as (hopefully) a home for some tree sparrow chicks in the coming year.

tree sparrow boxes.pngTree sparrow boxes lined up on a bench. Can you spot which have been made with cladding? Image by Jake Goodwin

It requires a little time and brain power but by changing our attitude towards materials – rarely something is truly single use! – you might start to find that you’re throwing barely anything away. That old wood could be a nest box. That plastic sheeting is halfway to being a pond liner. The possibilities are virtually endless.


Words by Jake Goodwin and Marianne Nicholson

Feature image of tree sparrow on branch by Marianne Nicholson


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