Europe and Central Asia
3 Feb 2015

The British Embassy becomes a haven for birds in the heart of Athens

© Vretaniki Presveia
By BirdLife Europe

The Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS, BirdLife in Greece) placed seven artificial bird nests in the garden of the British Embassy in Athens, following an invitation from the British Ambassador.

The British Embassy in Greece is located in the heart of Athens, in the ancestral home of the celebrated former president, Eleftherios Venizelos. The British Government acquired the residence in 1936, shortly after the death of the influential Greek statesman. Built in the 1870s by Venizelos’ father, the magnificent house is surrounded by a splendid orchard, with an abundance of orange, lemon, almond, apricot, bitter orange and other citrus trees, cypresses, bougainvillea; it is a haven for many birds.

In December 2014, HOS was invited by the British Ambassador John Kittmer to place artificial bird nests in the garden of the British residence. He affirmed: “I am very pleased that the historic garden of the British Residence has seven new nests for the birds of Athens, as well as for migratory birds, seeking shelter for nesting during their passage through the city. In Britain there is a long tradition of protecting birds and I think their presence in the urban space is a quality of life index for humans. A big ‘thank you’ to the Greek Ornithological Society for the research and placement of the nests. I look forward to welcoming my first feathered guests, a few months from now.”

Several species of birds, both residents and summer visitors, depend on the natural cavities in trees and shrubs for shelter. However, the number of suitable nesting trees has declined across Athens, as very few trees reach the age at which such cavities will develop. For this reason, the placement of artificial nests represents a vital supplement to natural cavities in the city, offering a welcome nesting site for many species such as songbirds, woodpeckers and owls.

George Sgouros, Director of HOS, stated: “Our cooperation with the British Embassy is a continuation of our strong link with the RSPB (BirdLife in The UK). British citizens are well known for their environmental and social sensitivity and we are very happy that Ambassador Kittmer is following this tradition by offering a safe haven to the birds in Athens. Although our nests are designed for the requirements of particular species that only nest in the spring, they may also be used as shelter in the winter for a wide variety of birds that live in the city.”

He concluded: “We hope that the British Ambassador’s initiative will be replicated by others and will help to further raise public awareness of the broader environmental challenges of our time.”

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For more information, please contact Katerina Giosma, Media and Communications Officer at the Greek Ornithological Society (HOS, BirdLife Partner).

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