The Taronga Western Plains Zoo team has been busy installing nest boxes around the Zoo over the past week. In total 18 nest boxes have been installed to provide areas for mammals and birds to nest, which in turn will help maintain populations of particular species in the area including Masked Owls, Little Lorikeets, Micro-bat species, Brush-tailed Possums and Sugar Gliders.
Having natural nesting hollows readily available is an important aspect to wildlife conservation. The removal of damaged and dead trees has left many hollow nesting birds and mammals with fewer natural places to raise their young. Invasive birds, such as the European starling and the House Sparrow, also compete with native birds and mammals for the use of remaining hollows.
By installing these nest boxes we can help replicate natural hollows to provide homes for birds, bats and possums, adding to the naturally occurring hollows throughout the Zoo with wildlife nest boxes.
Throughout Australia there is a hollow shortage caused by the clearing of original bushland, including hollow bearing trees, and this has resulted in loss of natural nesting sites. Unfortunately the simple age old task of removing dead trees for firewood has removed hollows as homes. Australian wildlife has one of the highest rates of hollow dependency in the world. It can take up to 100 years to form a hollow suitable for Superb Parrots and 300 years to form a hollow suitable for Brush Tailed Possums, so when trees with hollows are cut down it takes away hundreds of years of work. This is why it is very important to conserve existing hollows for existing and future wildlife.
The new nest boxes will be monitored at different times across the year to see if key native species are utilising them. The nest boxes will be monitored using a hand held 90 degree camera, which can be used quickly and safely from the ground.
By Keeper Mark O'Riordan