One of the things lacking about Wordwood as a Land for Wildlife property is that it has few older trees with hollows. Over 180 Australian birds, mammals and reptiles use tree hollows for nesting and shelter, but eucalypts are often at least 100 years old before they even start to produce hollows. So, to improve the habitat value of Wordwood, we plan to dot the property with artifical hollows – nest boxes. We have started with two boxes designed for gliders or small parrots and made by me (that’s Pete).
The nest boxes are based on those made by a Sunshine Coast company, Hollow Log Homes (link attached to this website). They also produce a fantastic book complete with plans for nest boxes for a range of species. I’ve used their nest boxes on projects at work and can guarantee that the animals use them. In one case, we put a box up in the morning and by the afternoon a pair of pale-headed rosellas had moved in!
I built these boxes using some 17mm structural ply we had left over from making the bed. Everything was screwed together, making sure there were no sharp protruding points. Since they will be out in the weather, I gave all surfaces a good coating of lanolin. This will help protect the timber and has the benefit of being non-toxic to anything that might decide to chew on it. The boxes were hung using some old hose to protect the tree and a twist in the wire to allow it to be extended over time as the tree grows. Hopefully they’ll last that long! We finished them off with a couple of handfuls of tea tree mulch inside to replicate the rotting material found in natural hollows.
These boxes went up in early October 2012. Watch this space to see if anyone moves in!
Margie here – October 2013 – one year after they went up – and someone has moved into a nest box. A tiny, tiny owlet nightjar. It is so cute. Pete and Zoe spotted it on their traditional holiday camping trip.
We often see microbats flying at dusk around the open areas of the property. I (Pete) put our first two bat boxes up (Jan 2014). I’ll (Pete again) use the Hollow Log Homes design for one or two more and my own adaptation of an American design for a ‘Bat Can’, made using PVC pipe. I’m very keen to see if that one works (link also attached to this website).
The Owlet Nightjar must have left because White-throated Treecreepers are now using our nest boxes (Sept 2014). Pete noticed from bed in The Nook, and as we watched the male returned with food and fed the female in the box. Hoping for babies next visit.