Gripsure decking is being used to provide new homes for garden birds. Off cuts of the timber decking boards are donated to local bird-lover Peter Farry, who uses them to create nesting boxes.
Peter – who is known as ‘Cornwall’s Bird Box Man’ – has been making and selling wooden bird boxes from his home near the Cornish village of St Dennis for 12 years. He sells his unique creations to raise money for the Merlin Centre and other charities, by attending their craft fairs and Open Gardens and providing raffle prizes.
The nesting boxes are made from timber donated by two local businesses: anti slip decking company Gripsure and timber merchants just fir. Peter decorates them with twisted hazel and dog wood that he grows himself, as well as driftwood and shells, found on nearby Par Beach.
Peter, who worked as a garden designer, says it was watching birds in his own garden that inspired his hobby. “I have always been interested in birds and spend hours watching them from my garden decking. I also enjoy carpentry so I started making nesting boxes for my own garden. It was trial and error at first, but over time I learned that each species has its own likes and dislikes when it comes to choosing where to nest. The boxes need to be precisely right – the size of the hole has to be spot on, within a millimetre in fact, to attract a particular species.”
Although no two of Peter’s bird boxes are alike, each is based on two crucial measurements: the size of the hole and the distance between the hole and the bottom of the box. The boxes are built using brass screws, rather than being glued like most commercially-made nesting boxes. And with Gripsure timber being pressure treated, the boxes are fully weatherproof and – unlike many mass produced nesting boxes - last for many years.
Peter creates boxes for a number of our most common garden birds, including jenny wren, tits and sparrows. He sells his bird boxes at a number of charity events and craft fairs in Cornwall, including the monthly Lanhydrock Memorial Hall craft fair. This summer he will also have a stall at a number of Open Garden events for the Merlin Centre and Cancer Research.
Gripsure Managing Director Mike Nicholson said: “At Gripsure we are committed to sustainability – for example, all our decking is produced using sustainably sourced timber. We also recycle as much as possible so when Peter asked us for off cuts to use to create bird boxes, we thought it was a great idea. In fact, we have been so inspired by the idea that we have just installed one of Peter’s bird boxes at Gripsure HQ.
“It is great to know that our decking is being used to create a new home for garden birds. Peter’s creations are helping more people to enjoy watching wildlife in their gardens while raising money for charity at the same time.”
Peter’s tips for the perfect nesting box:
- Decide which type of bird you want to provide a home for and then do your research – different birds need the entrance hole to be a different size.
- Use timber and other natural materials. Brightly coloured boxes might look pretty but they will not be as attractive to birds as neutral colours.
- Do not position the nest too close to bird feeders. Small birds will feel threatened by some of the larger birds that visit your garden for food.
- Avoid the temptation to clean out the bird box at the end of the nesting season. Birds will be put off by an empty nesting box and prefer to do their own clear out.
- To get the most enjoyment from your bird box, spend time watching birds in the garden. When a pair arrives at the nest, the male will wait outside while the female checks out the inside – this can take up to two hours! If you listen you will hear her tapping with her beak on the inside of the box.
- Do not sand down the entrance hole – it needs to be rough so that birds can scent mark it. If the female likes the nesting box, you will see the male pecking at the entrance hole. This is him scent marking the nest so that other birds will leave it alone.