Pinkerton Landcare and Environment Group have recently placed five nest boxes in Pinkerton Forest. Will Clegg, an arborist at Melbourne Zoo, did the hard work of placing the boxes high in the trees. His work was most spectacular as he climbed each tall tree with the aid of climbing ropes. They needed to be placed several metres above the ground to be suitable as wildlife nest sites and safe from predators.
Although the day was dark and drizzly, with mist hanging over the entire region. But Will was undeterred by the constant drizzle that fell through much of the morning, climbing his way into the trees with his selection of ropes and pulleys, beginning the day at 7.30am! Many thanks to Will and his daring tree climbing skills!
Will also placed three nest boxes in Pinkerton Forest on behalf of PLEG, in 2015. Monbulk Landcare group notified Melbourne Water that they had surplus boxes who in turn notified other Landcare groups that they were available, thereby facilitating the donation of the nest boxes to other groups. Another eight boxes were made available to us, again by the generosity of Monbulk Landcare Group, who had donated three surplus nest boxes to us last year. Likewise, these had been built by Bayswater Secondary College in conjunction with Bunnings Bayswater.
Many Australian native animals are ‘obligate hollow users’ which means that they need hollows in which to nest. Tree hollows are in fact necessary for their survival. These include many of our much loved species such as Kookaburras, parrots, cockatoos, owls, ducks and possums. These include many of our much loved species such as Kookaburras, parrots, cockatoos, owls, ducks and possums. Even quite large wetland birds such as Wood Ducks and Chestnut-breasted Shelducks nest in tree hollows. The tiny newly hatched ducklings leap from the hollow to the ground, to be led to the safety of water by a parent. Natural hollows in tree trunks or old broken limbs provide both protection from predators and insulation against extremes of hot and cold weather. Even dead trees provide valuable wildlife habitat and nest sites! Removal of old trees with hollows is in fact a major reason for the disappearance of much of our native wildlife.
These ancient trees have many hollows that provide homes and nesting sites for native wildlife. However old limbs and sometimes old trees fall during storms and windy weather, and it takes about 80 years for trees to grow old enough to create hollows suitable for wildlife. As the younger trees are only a decade or so old, there may be no new natural hollows created for many decades, so the possibility exists that the supply of tree hollows will diminish over time. Nest boxes will help address this shortage as trees fall, until new trees are old enough to create new hollows. They are not nearly as suitable as natural hollows but they may help alleviate the shortage of such hollows in the short term, until more hollows are formed naturally. We will probably place more boxes here in the future, as become necessary.
It is to be hoped that this coming spring and in years to come these boxes will be occupied by native wildlife, until new tree hollows can be created by nature.