Diary of Nest box construction
Some years ago my family and I would watch as the local pair of Kookaburras visited their home inside the termite nest on the eualypt just over the back fence. We had watched them excavate the termite nest by flying from a nearby branch to strike the nest with their beaks. We watched them fight with a crowd of Indian Mynas for possession of the nest for a full week and then saw them return, time after time to feed their chicks.

When the nest collapsed from weathering and overuse I started to think about their options. I realized that the Kookaburras' home inside the termite nest was lost permanently. The best I could do to help them was to make a nest box for them following plans in the Gould League's "The Nestbox Book". During the search for this I learnt that many of our native birds and mammals depend on tree hollows for nesting and that due to our communities' removal of most of the old trees likely to have hollows, in many cases they just don't nest! Not only have humans been removing old trees, but other occupiers of our land like Indian Mynas and European bees are moving in on hollows and stopping their use by our native fauna.

The flock of birds we see today is getting older and without "hollows" will not be nesting. They will age to an end point and there will be no replacements. That flock of birds will be gone. As artificial as they might be, man-made nest boxes are a step in the direction of sustaining that flock. When I received notice of EoI grants from WSC, I queried organisers regarding the absence of "Habitat" in the guidelines. This was acknowledged as an oversight and I was given the go-a head to include nest boxes in my application. I knew the task would be quite demanding so I visited Men's Shed, Bateau Bay and sought help in construction. I learnt that they make up a possum box and charge $30 for materials so when approached, they acknowledged the value of the project and agreed to help. I submitted a hurried submission to WSC for construction of 7 "Men's Shed" nest boxes at $210 and purchase 4 others from Latrobe University for about $300.

As soon as grant was approved an order was placed for one each of box for
  • Microbat,
  • Ringtail possum
  • Rainbow Lorrikeet and
  • wood ducks.
Once the Latrobe boxes were delivered I was able to estimate the amount of material needed and quotes from Walker Bros for 13mm C/D Non Structural Plywood helped me realize that we could make up the boxes for much less than $30 each. Plans for similar boxes were drawn and two 2400 x 1200 mm sheets of C/D ply13 mm thick were ordered to be delivered to Men's Shed.

Layout plans to minimize waste and simplify the cutting out were drawn up for 14 nest boxes (cuts the full length of sheets are preferred). A Mens'Shed supervisor helped in cutting up the large sheets into manageable pieces. These were then marked out according to the plans, then cut into parts for the 14 boxes. Boxes were screwed and glued using stainless steel screws and Selley's Durabond wood glue which is virtually insoluble and non-toxic when cured. Assembled boxes were given 2 coats of Cabot's Timbercolour, an acrylic outdoor paint, lids were hinged and latch hooks fitted.
Ecologist, Paul Madigan helped select trees to harbour the 19 boxes and later Dane Pickering and a colleague took about 4 hours to place the boxes in trees. The occupation of these boxes is awaited with much interest. They will be monitored by photographing with a pole camera and observations of activity recorded on the website in as much detail as possible.

For further help or more details contact me by email.               Return to top of page