Nest boxes for wildlife: a practical guide
On the weekend I bought another book to add to my already vast collection. (Can one ever have too many books?) This one is a very practical book; it says so on the cover!
- Nest boxes for wildlife: a practical guide by Alan and Stacey Franks (2006, Bloomings Books, Melbourne)
We already have quite a few species of wildlife nesting in hollows on our property. At times however, the competition seems to be intense. This has been worsened in a the last few years by the large numbers of the introduced European Starling taking over many of the suitable hollows. They have forced some of our native species to look elsewhere. Over the next few years I intend giving some of our native birds and animals a helping hand by providing some nesting boxes. We have enough suitable trees for several dozen such nest boxes.
This new book of mine has plans included for some of the more commonly constructed nesting boxes. These plans include many different birds as well as boxes suitable for possums, gliders and bats. Of course I could have gone ahead and bought some boxes, but I enjoy making things with timber so I’ll have a go at them myself. It’s a bit late to be putting up these boxes this year because the breeding season is in full swing. I plan to have some ready for next spring.
I’ll keep you posted.
Special Note: this book deals only with Australian fauna. For suitable nesting boxes for your country, please look for publications dealing with you local fauna.
How intriguing. That’s on my list of books for reserving at the library. It’s at an outer branch, along with The Nestbox Book compiled by Gould Group, Melbourne. The most useful one I’ve found so far at our local library is Attracting birds to your garden in Australia / John Dengate.
Australian birds seem resistant to the idea of using nestboxes. Of course they are only of use to birds which use found situations. Those which build cup nests out of mud and sticks or similar nests don’t use a nestbox. There are many overseas books with dimensions for various kinds of box, but they are usually not relevant to the Australian situation.
I’ve noticed a similarity in some lists of dimensions for Australian nestboxes. As if there was one original source which is being copied. I think this is still a developing area. I’m working on a next box for spotted doves and possibly crested pigeons. We had one who nested in our sweet peas, so they do try to make their home in our garden. A dove nest would be open fronted, with just a small bar to prevent the eggs from rolling out. These recent winds have blown down eggs from high in the melaleuca. Doves nests are particularly flimsy and hard to see.
Around here the boxes would be of some attraction (I hope) to the various parrots we have resident in the area, as well as the Pardalotes, Kingfishers, Owls and Nightjars, finches and bats. Of course the starling will have to be discouraged somehow.
I know it’s too late to put up nestboxes for this season, but I’m still working on them. I figure that birds will become familiar enough with them to consider them for next season. Or perhaps it is just birder nestboxing season!
The library came up with The Australian Bird-Garden by Graham Pizzey. It makes the point that only 17% of Australian birds use nestboxes. But it does have better descriptions of how to make them and attach them to trunks. This involves a chain with a spring in it. I think I’m going to try the lorikeet style and venture on a dove style. These are the only candidates for tenants in my suburban backyard.
Except for the Indian mynas. But they seem to have had their attempt at a nest in an open gutter blown away by the big red dust storm.
It possibly isn’t too late for some species to start using the boxes. For many, the breeding season extends up to Feb-March so there is plenty of time. Many species also have 2-5 broods in a season. Getting them familiar with the nests is also a good move.
Happy boxing and birding.
Do you have any ideas about how to stop starlings nesting in hollow trees? Im revegating some scrub here in Murray Bridge but the only birds in the hollows are the pesky starlings. I thought about closing them up but wouldn’t want any native birds missing out.
Welcome to my web site about birds.
When you work out what to do with the starlings, let me know. We have exactly the same problem in our small patch of mallee scrub on the outskirts of Murray Bridge (we are near the prison).
Nesting boxes is one solution – but you’d have to be ever vigilant, tossing out the Starling’s eggs and nest as soon as they move in. (They are introduced and therefore not protected.) You’d probably have to check each nest box every day – I just don’t have the time to do that.