In an effort to promote increased environmental knowledge among school children and bird club members, CSSL, with funds from Heidelberg Cement, have been celebrating the Spring Alive Programme for many years. The Spring Alive Programme is a wonderful opportunity to engage young and interested people to nature and especially to birds, their habitats and their role for biodiversity.
This year, CSSL again received support from the aforementioned institutions to organise a biodiversity sensitization for school children.
The Spring Alive 2021 theme: “Protecting bird nests”
During the course of the one-day programme a lot was learnt about the importance of birds and why bird nest protection is crucial for biodiversity. The participants had the chance to discuss the topic and present their ideas and learnings to the whole group at the close of day. We are very happy to know that the School Nature Club students together with their teachers and the bird club members will spread the information and the new knowledge they have gained during the programme with their schools, families, and neighbourhoods.
Interview with Andrea Haffner, CSSL Community Mobilization Officer
On the occasion of the programme we interviewed Andrea Haffner, our Community Mobilization Officer and enthusiastic bird watcher about the importance of Bird nest protection:
Mrs Haffner, the topic of Spring Alive 2021 is “Protecting Bird Nests”. To start from the beginning: Why do birds build
Thank you. That is a very important question to aid in understanding why bird nest protection is crucial. There are different reasons why birds build nests. One obvious one is that they lay and incubate their eggs in the nests and they raise their chicks in the nests when they hatch. Nests protect birds from bad weather and from predators. And of course, they use their nests to roost. To make it simple: the nests are their houses. They use them like we human beings use our houses. They built their nests because of similar reasons why humans build houses.
Why is it important to protect birds and bird nests?
As I said before, nests are the homes of the birds. Destroying their homes will mean destroying the bird population as their breeding will be affected eggs and chicks will be exposed to predation and the birds themselves exposed to external threat.
When we protect bird nests, we also protect birds. And birds are very important for several reasons. They are environmental health indicators- the abundance and diversity of birds recorded over time indicates the health status of the environment. Birds help in pollination of several plants which contributes towards having a larger variety of available food and fruits. They help reduce weeds. Scavenging birds serve to clean up the environment off carrion. Birds also control some pests especially insects which is of help to our farmers. They help in fertilization. And last but not least: Birdwatching connects us to nature. They are wonderful creatures which have a right to live as every other creature on earth.
Which is your favourite bird in terms of nest building? Which are the most amazing bird nests we can find here in Sierra Leone?
It´s difficult to say. There are so many ways birds built their nests- some simple with a few leaves and twigs whilst others elaborate with varying shapes. They can be high up on roof tops, or on tree branches, and in hollow trees whilst others prefer to build on window sills or other quiet edges or nooks of a house .
What are the biggest threats to bird nests and to birds?
There are several threatening processes driving declines in bird populations. Foremost among them are the spread of agriculture which puts 1,126 threatened birds (77%) at risk. Logging and wood harvesting is impacting 763 species (52%) and invasive species threaten 473 (32%) of threatened species. These numbers are statistics published by the BirdLife International. In all this, we destroy important habitat and destroy nature.
What can everyone of us do, to help to protect bird nests and save the biodiversity of Sierra Leone?
Leave them alone! Respect the habitat of birds and all other animals. They have been there before us. It was their home before it became our home, our field, our garden. Welcome them when they choose to build their nest close to your home. But leave them alone. They will thank you with their wonderful songs in the morning.