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Frequently asked questions

Below you will find a short overview of the questions people most frequently ask us. This might save you a telephone call or a trip to our centre, which in return will save you, as well as us, time.

 

I think there are stone martens in my attic. What to do?

When people hear stumbling and rumbling in their attic at night, there’s a good chance it’s a stone marten. These animals live up to their name; they like to live in the proximity of humans and are known to choose a warm attic as their residence. They are very agile and can run upwards against a wall; they lift roofing tiles to make their way to the attic. Their nuisance reaches its summit during late spring (May) when the young are born.

Stone martens look like a small cat but with shorter legs, their coat is uniformly brown and they have a large white marking at the throat. Their diet consists of eggs, rodents, rabbits, pheasants, frogs, rainworms, berries,... They are protected animals and it is prohibited to kill them. Killing them is useless anyway, because a territory that falls vacant is soon taken by another marten. It is much better to chase the marten away.

The Natuurhulpcentrum sells ‘anti-marten spray’. This spray contains aromatic substances which are unbearable to the marten, but are almost odourless to humans, cats or dogs. By applying the aromatic substance on pieces of sponge, cotton wadding or cloth, the product can spread throughout the whole attic. If the marten lives on a false ceiling or other places that are hard to reach, the odour wads have to be put into place through holes. Once the marten is chased away, the holes or possible entrances have to be closed off, so that the animal cannot return to its (your) familiar attic.

Anti marten spray: €25 (if delivered by mail: €30, shipping included).

In addition to the spray can we also sell an electrical device. This produces an ultrasonic sound that stone martens are afraid of. They will run to find shelter elsewhere. The device costs € 45 (batteries excl.) and can function up to a year with two AA 1.5 Volt batteries.

All my chickens have been slaughtered

People who keep chickens risk becoming the victim of the brutal slaughter of their poultry. The chickens are often decapitated. If this happens during the day, a stray dog or hound can be the offender. However, the killing often happens at night, in which case the fox as well as the marten can be the offender, for both animals are food opportunists. This means that they are always looking for food with a maximum of taste and a minimum of effort. So a fox/marten will rather catch a tame domestic chicken than chase a fit rabbit.

 

But why does the fox/marten kill all my chickens and then leaves the dead bodies lying there? This is reaction that is called ‘overkill’. When a fox/marten attacks a flock of pheasants in nature, it will catch the weakest one while the other birds take to flight. The same thing happens in your henhouse, but the other chickens are unable to flee. The fox/marten thinks these are all weak animals (because they aren’t fleeing) it has to ‘dispose of’.

The only solution to this kind of problem is to enter the chickens at night in a solid night house or to make the henhouse “fox-proof” (see picture). This indeed requires some efforts from the owner, but it is the only durable solution.

A bird keeps pecking at my window

Especially during springtime we sometimes see birds pecking continuously at a window. They do so, because they see their reflection in it. The male birds don’t tolerate any intruders in their territory and so they keep attacking their image. If this intruder then pecks back at them, the bird will respond even more fiercely. A good solution is removing the image by e.g. sticking a newspaper on the window

There’s a young bird on my lawn

Young birds leaving the nest can seldom or never fly immediately. They get out of the nest as good as they can to hop around in the low cover. They do so for several days until their flying skills have sufficiently developed. In the meantime the parents continue to feed the young and protect them from cats. So if the young bird on your lawn isn’t injured, it is best to leave it alone.

What is the best way to hang a nestbox?

It is preferable to hang regular nestboxes for tits or sparrows at a minimum height of 2 meters, with the hole facing the south-east. A balcony nestbox (for blackbirds, robins, wagtails) has to hang even higher. These are not hole-nesting birds and they prefer a more open nestbox with a larger view. The best place for a nestbox for swallows is in a barn with cattle. Nestboxes for house-martins are preferably hung in pairs under a white cornice.

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