A helping hand for the wildlife in our woodlands

Since autumn 2018, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) have been working together with volunteers and Callander’s Landscape staff to make improvements for wildlife and provide safe nesting and roosting sites for animals in the woodlands at Callander Crags and Leny Woods.

Volunteers from the local community built a number of bird and bat boxes from wood. These, together with additional woodcrete boxes, have been gradually put up in suitable areas of good woodland habitat over the past two years.

We asked Katy from Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) to give us a progress update, prior to the next round of monitoring.

A group of people in woodland with an owl nesting box behind them

Volunteers and the traingular barn owl box.

In autumn 2018, we started to put up the boxes with help from the team of local volunteers. We started at Callander Crags, where twenty small nest boxes were installed, along with ten bat boxes, a tawny owl box and a special large box for barn owls. The range of nesting and roosting boxes were chosen to suit the wildlife that was known to be living around Callander, to help ensure that it will continue to thrive in the local woodlands. All the small nest boxes have small tunnels on the entrance holes to help protect them from predators like woodpeckers and pine martens.

We were delighted with the first checks, in autumn 2019, as it was clear that the boxes had been a great success. We carefully cleaned out the used empty nests of blue tits and great tits from the small boxes. We could see that many had fledged chicks by looking for clues in the debris of the nests. We also checked all the bat boxes and found pipistrelle bats using several of them – it was great to see the little bats readily taking to the new artificial roost sites.

Close up of a pipistrelle bat

Soprano pipistrelle bat

The tawny owl boxes had been used by nesting great tits rather than owls. But it is great that they were used at all; perhaps tawny owls will move in later. The barn owl box provided a fantastic surprise: a pair of barn owls started using the box for roosting within a few months of it going up! Unfortunately, they didn’t produce any young owls in 2019, but it is brilliant that the owls found the box so quickly. Hopefully there will be baby owls in 2020!

In September 2019, following on from the successes of the wildlife boxes at Callander Crags, many more were installed at Leny Woods. With help from a team of volunteers, we have erected fifteen more small nest boxes, sixteen bat boxes, two tawny owl boxes and one further barn owl box. Hopefully these will also be readily used by the local wildlife.

Broken eggs in a nest

Monitoring nests

I am lucky to live in Callander with the Crags on my doorstep. I have been keeping an eye on the local small nest boxes during my daily walks with the family. It has been great to see that many of the boxes are occupied again this year, the highlight being a nest box full of nuthatch chicks near the Crags car park!

We are looking forward to checking all the boxes this autumn. This partnership project will help to provide safer nesting places, as we are helping to make the Callander woodlands a better place for wildlife now and in the future.