We had glorious sunshine on Monday 1st May at the Treehouse.  A group of children came along to learn all about what birds are up to this time of year and how we can help them.  Everyone can do their bit to help birds as they are busy preparing nests and feeding their young. Birds really do have superhero status after long journeys, preening themselves to win the heart of a mate, fighting to get a mate, building nests and then the endless arduous task of feeding the nestlings. luck had it that help was on it’s way.

Armed with empty plastic bottles, children made their own bird feeders.  Giving a second life for a plastic product otherwise destined to the recycle bin.

In groups the children were assigned a bird challenge, learning what their birds eat and need to survive on before going on forage to find the goods.

We examined a birds nest and marvelled at just how intricate it was.  Two groups were given the challenge of making their nest  using only natural materials.   We studied  the differing sizes of bird boxes, discussing which birds nest in each as well as the fascinating habit of Blue tits covering the edges of the hole to make it smaller to deter predators.      We discovered human hair can be a welcome addition to nest building.  The children combed their hair with their fingers watching it drift away for the birds to collect this precious commodity later.

Children found dry twigs to fuel the “Kelly Kettle” – a portable kettle that uses firewood to boil water.  After a safety demonstration and an opportunity to fuel the kettle, we melted fat into a pan to make bird seed cakes which could be hung from trees after they set overnight.  There will be more use of the Kelly Kettle on some of our forthcoming events in the summer holidays.

On Thursday 4th May we had an In-service day – and another Sunny one too!  Children came along to learn all about helping Minibeasts.  Linking in with the bird project on Monday, children learned that many birds need insects to feed their young!

After a lengthy bug hunt (Lynda gave them a real challenge to find all 15 bugs) we set about making some “Bug Hotels” using items otherwise intended for landfill.  YES,  I hear you cry! We have found a use for old odd socks at last!   Stuffing the old socks with wool, dried grass and moss the children then hid their old socks – now homes for many minibeasts under grass.

We cut up bamboo and packed them tightly together to provide more hollow homes.  Some children used a power drill to make holes in logs for solitary bees and placed logs in shaded areas for deadwood – a precious fodder for minibeasts.

An old air brick came in handy too – stuffed with rolled up corrugated cardboard and dried grass – there will be booming colony of creepy crawlies living there too.

The Birds and Minibeasts at The Treehouse have received great assistance from the children of Lochcarron and Applecross this May.  Thanks to Avril Mackenzie for her kind donation of Bird Seed and to LCDC for the use of the fantastic Treehouse as a venue.

Lynda Beveridge





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