With all our talk of romance for the human species on Valentine’s Day, we seem to have forgotten to mention that the season has changed for all creatures great and small. It might not feel like it – but it’s supposed to be spring in Ireland! The first day of this month was officially the first day of spring here.  February 14th is the day for lovers everywhere, and some say, the day the birds begin to pair off for mating. They know it’s time to start thinking about raising yet another brood for this year. Some brave feathered friends are already busily trying to gather nest material, despite the harsh weather conditions we’ve been experiencing lately. Winds are howling so they are almost knocked off their wings trying to fly with random bits of moss or fallen twigs in their beaks. Trees still have hardly any leaves and their branches are swaying madly in the high winds, so it’s hard to know how they are going to build themselves a safe home for chick rearing! Mating is a very strong instinct though, and biological clocks will  keep ticking! Conscientious farmers leave ditches untouched so the birds can nest comfortably in a protected environment. These farmers know the benefits of having a healthy number of birds around their land in the coming months, to eat the bugs that may otherwise eat young crops. On a domestic level, a bird box is always a good idea to erect around the house this time of year. If you have a large garden, you can put it somewhere in view but at a safe distance, so when the activity starts for real you can watch the comings and goings of Mummy and Daddy as they try hard every day to feed their demanding little ones. Help nature along a little by providing a safe shelter or even some bird food to keep them going as they go about their house building this season. Just like us humans on Valentine’s Day, birds need a little proof someone really cares!