Friday, February 26, 2010

Building for the birds

When the sun is shining at Gamone, I love to work outside at manual tasks. Think of it, in musical terms, as a counterpoint melody with respect to the hours I spend in front of my computer. My everyday Gamone fugue is 50 percent intellectual, 50 percent manual.

Judging from the quantity of tools, this job looks like a big project.

By chance, I received a visit from one of the fellows who recently restored a corner of the roof of my house. When he saw my sturdy style of construction of a nest box for mésanges (great tits), he burst out laughing. "There's no way in the world that the birds are going to kick that box apart... not even if they turn out to be ostrich eggs." I explained that I was simply following construction principles that I had discovered on the web. I agree: I've probably used twice as many screws as are really necessary. On the other, it's not the thigh muscles of the baby tits that worry me, but rather the combined effects of rain, wind and sun. I can't even paint the nest box, because wild birds don't like painted surfaces. In any case, here's the finished object:

The diameter of the entrance, 30 mm, corresponds theoretically to giant tits. I'm proud of the genuine slate roof (half of a single slate tile purchased at Castorama for 4 euros), which I've glued to a hinged plywood lid. This roof can be opened for annual cleaning. The interior "balcony" will be used by the parents as a convenient platform when entering or exiting the nest box. As for the nest itself, to be built by the birds, it will be located down in the depths of my box. The final object is quite heavy (because of the slate), and shouldn't normally be blown apart by the first tempest at Gamone.

I've anchored it firmly against a stout vertical branch of one of my linden trees. In April, by which time the box will have merged into the setting, the moment of truth will arrive. Will Monsieur et Madame Mésange decide to move in and procreate in my nest box? We'll see...


  1. Beautiful bird houses, lucky birds!

    I hope you are safe! Read about Xynthia in the news, terrible force of nature, quite frightening to think of being in its path.

  2. It's a fact that countless residents of France in the path of the Xynthia tempest have suffered greatly over the last 24 hours. At Gamone, though, there were no damages. I had friends staying here last night, and we spent a pleasant evening in front of a log fire listening to the howl of the wind in the woods on the other side of the creek. There was an eerie atmosphere when we listened to the TV news, because of an alarming mixture of warnings about Xynthia and terrible news concerning the earthquake in Chile.
    This morning, a minute after the departure of my friends, they phoned me to say that a tree had fallen across the road, preventing them from leaving my place. I raced down the road with my chainsaw, and a single cut through the dead trunk enabled us to push it rapidly off the road. I have the impression that the gigantic cliffs all around Choranche protect us from the full blast of tempests. Alas, for many people throughout the planet, no barriers exist to protect them from the colossal destructive forces of Nature.