We went to a workshop to learn how to make nichoirs – nests – for hirondelles – swallows – at la Maison du Parc, St Brisson. It was one of a series of ateliers organised by La Parc naturel régional du Morvan and la Société d’Histoire Naturelle d’Autun. We learnt a lot about the birds and discovered that there are two types of hirondelles – L’Hirondelle de Fenetre and L’Hirondelle Rustique. L’Hirondelle de Fenetre like their nests to be up close under a ledge, window or balcony.
L’Hirondelle Rustique often make their nests in or around barns and old farm buildings. L’Hirondelle Rustique have a wide chest and the tail looks longer and more pointed than L‘Hirondelle de Fenetre.
Numbers of hirondelles have declined dramatically. When we first bought our house here in Le Morvan we would regularly see hirondelles at the end of a hot summer’s day swooping to catch flies. Sadly their habit is under threat due to old buildings being renovated, the increased use of insecticides and predators such as cats and pigeons.
You need plaster, water, generous handfuls of earth and straw – mix together to make a paste.
Use a bowl as a mould and cover half the bowl. As the paste sets you can feel the heat, leave to set for around 30 minutes and then gently ease the bowl away.
We had an interesting walk around the parc looking at birds nests that had been made to encourage the birds to nest. There was an impressive tower or bird hotel housing rows of nests, it has been built high in the air to keep the birds safe.
The hirondelles are due to arrive between March and April.
We hope they like the nid and move in!