'The Happy House Sparrow' - the company turning waste into bird houses
The Happy Sparrow Company Blog Post
I don't remember falling in love with birds, it’s a relationship that for me has always been there. I was lucky enough to grow up completely and utterly immersed in nature. My happiest memories are of looking for newts in the pond, watching butterflies flicker in the sun-drenched orchard and laying in the grass, watching sparrows squabble over the feeders. A love of nature has always been my first and truest love, where I feel happiest and most at peace.
My ability to create little houses came a lot later however. My partner (Matt) and I decided to jack in our jobs on the outskirts of London and pursue a life more fulfilling. One where we could get back to where we both felt most at home - in the heart of nature. We bought a VW LT35, old school mini-bus, and embarked on the journey of converting her into our home.
Up until this point neither of us had any ‘DIY’ experience, we very literally had never even used a drill before, though having a dad who is very much a DIY expert, i felt we took to this challenge very naturally. This is where we learnt and practiced the skills that would later enable us to create little homes for little creatures.
In the process of converting a van we were on a very tight budget, which was initially the reason behind looking to source all of our materials ‘pre-loved’. We scoured junkyards, skips and became the local drop - off point for all unwanted materials! We soon realised how easy it is with a little bit of preparation (and a good eye) to use recycled and reclaimed materials. We managed to complete the van build using almost entirely second hand materials, buying only the bare minimum new.
We set off on 3 trips across Europe over the next 2 years, relishing the opportunity to live so close to nature, waking up beside lakes, nestled in mountains, and foraging our way through woodlands. It really is living the dream! Walking along a river bank in southern France towards the end of our trip, watching damselflies dance in the sunbeams, we became increasingly disillusioned with the idea of returning to the UK and doing ‘normal’ jobs. Jobs that are meaningless for the greater good. Jobs that aren’t going to help in the fight against climate change or re-wilding or protecting wildlife and natural spaces.
This is really where the idea for the Happy Sparrow Company began. The idea that we could work in a creative field whilst contributing to preservation of wildlife, helping to re-wild urban areas and increase & protect populations of different specie was very appealing to us - but we wanted to take it one step further. We wanted our creation of habitats to have an absolutely minimal environmental impact, so this is where we looked to using entirely recycled or reclaimed materials; tackling the problem of waste and throw away culture at the same time as creating new homes for wildlife.
With our previous experience of working with reclaimed materials and a love of up-cycling, using recycled materials has not been a challenge for us. We love the opportunity to use something that would otherwise go to waste and often see what people think of as ‘rubbish’ as something with a lot of life and purpose left in it. We’ve become accustomed to breaking old pallets and planing old shed panels, we’ve become the local collection point for all our friends’ drink cans! Sometimes we come across a ‘gold mine’ in the form of an old piece of sheet aluminium or some broken pieces of slate.
As wonderful as it is to be creative with up-cycling, the purpose of what we do is clear - we want to create homes and habitats for wildlife; especially in urban areas where nature has been increasingly displaced. To ensure we are always doing our best by wildlife we always follow RSPB guidelines on designs and measurements, to ensure the utmost suitability for different species. We never use any glue, varnish or any unnatural chemicals.
Since starting The Happy Sparrow Company we have taken on a number of different commissions and created many designs and styles, from Bug Hotels & open -fronted Wren boxes to Tawny Owl boxes and Bat boxes.
We feel the urgency of the decline in nature now more than ever and know there are many other nature lovers out there that feel the same way! We hope that The Happy Sparrow Company can help people give nature a place in their homes and create ‘shelters’ for wildlife in urban areas where the space left for nature is rapidly decreasing.
It is now the harsh reality that 1 in 10 of our native wildlife is critically endangered with more than 40 million birds vanishing from the UK in 50 years. House sparrows sadly are no exception to this, they are classified as RED under the UK Conservation Status - meaning they are of the highest possible conservation priority with the species needing urgent action. One major reason for this alarming decline is habitat loss, by putting up nest boxes around your home you can help these cheerful, noisy little birds by giving them a safe place to live, helping their population to stabilize and regenerate; preserving the beauty of nature for another generation to fall in love with.
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Thank-you for taking the time to read!