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Primary pupils get the bird 19 February 2007

PRIMARY schools are getting their feathers ruffled this term.

Eight schools are taking part in the BBC’s Nest Box Challenge, run in conjunction with the BBC Isle of Man website.

Free nest boxes are being set up at or near Rushen School, Dhoon School, Onchan School, Ballasalla School, Scoill Vallajeelt, Bride Infants School, Foxdale School and Peel Clothworkers School.

Schools will monitor birdlife using them and will register their findings with the British Trust for Ornithology.

Kerry Sharpe, a journalist with BBC Isle of Man, explained:

‘There are fewer wild garden birds these days and a general lack of information on nesting habits. Natural nest sites are disappearing as gardens and woods are tidied and old houses are repaired. ‘

The BBC campaign will link up with the British Trust for Ornithology to compile the largest ever survey into the diversity of birds in our gardens. Its website has lots of information which the schools can tap into.’

Kerry added:

‘We have set up a Nest Box Challenge feature on our BBC Isle of Man website – www.bbc.co.uk/isleofman – and will follow two or three of the most successful boxes. Schools will send in close-up photos of their nesting birds.’

Chris Sharpe, project manager of the Manx Bird Atlas, a registered charity that has carried out a seven-year survey of the Island’s birdlife, said the nest boxes would predominantly attract blue tits, great tits and house sparrows and, in the north of the Island, where they are concentrated, tree sparrows. The Manx Bird Atlas will contribute an article to the BBC Isle of Man website complementing the Nest Box Challenge.

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