If you are part of a conservation or wildlife group, here’s a few ideas for creating a nesting/roosting raft for your feathered friends.
With nesting season imminent, rafts are particularly good if birds have no access to an island for safe nesting, or if they are limited to nesting on the side of a pool which is prone to flooding. They can protect birds from predation all year round and increase breeding/survival success of young ones.
I got these designs several years ago when doing some conservation work for The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) , and as swanwatch we have put out several. Some are still being used nearly 20 years later! The costings of the one below are probably out of date now, and much of the polystyrene we found as abandoned litter from building sites, at least turning it into something useful. We used pine wood, but old smaller pallets are probably just as good.
The polystyrene gives buoyancy to the raft, and gives enough clearance for the water to rise when enough slack is left on the rope/chain which is anchored from the ends of the floating platform at opposite ends. We used old ice cream tubs filled with concrete, and also breeze blocks as anchors. With this design it took the weight of one person, and therefore plenty for a bevy of birds. A duck platform or “gander lander” is also preferable for young birds to be able to access the raft.
A couple of more elaborate designs are shown in the BTCV book below.
Despite going to many efforts however, it seems some birds are not too fussy on where they park themselves for a kip. 😮