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New homes for native fauna

Whroo Goldfields Conservation Management Network has installed 400 nest boxes for birds and possums thanks to $1300 from City of Greater Bendigo community grant.

BARBARA SUNGAILA June 20, 2014 3:10am

Heathcote resident Orlando Talamo has championed the Hollows for Habitat nest box program in local box ironbark forests. Photo: submitted


Nest boxes for the brush-tailed phascogales, pardalotes, gliders and owls have been installed in box ironbark forests in the western part of the Goulburn Broken Catchment, thanks to a $1300 City of Greater Bendigo community grant.

Whroo Goldfields Conservation Management Network co-ordinator Janice Mentiplay-Smith said since 2008 the CMN had installed 400 nest boxes on public and private land in the region to provide habitat for endangered and threatened native animals.

‘‘As the box ironbark forests are of a uniform age, the trees haven’t had time to develop hollows,’’ Ms Mentiplay-Smith said.

‘‘Natural hollows can take 150 or more years to develop, usually started by termites, fungi and moisture degrading a spot on the tree trunk, which then over many years, widens into a tree hollow.

‘‘The City of Greater Bendigo community grant meant CMN member and nest box monitor Orlando Talamo was able to build and install another 26 nest boxes for native marsupials and birds.

‘‘It also allowed us to trial some different styles of nest boxes, which will be evaluated to see how successful they are.”

Ms Mentiplay-Smith said ongoing monitoring showed native animals appeared to be quite willing to adapt and make themselves at home in the artificial hollows.

‘‘The use of the nest boxes is phenomenal. Each year the occupancy of the boxes increases and gliders have been known to move in and breed within six weeks of a nest box being installed,’’ she said.

‘‘Currently the nest boxes have around a 55 per cent occupancy rate, which is a fantastic result and shows the demand for habitat by these native animals.’’

Ms Mentiplay-Smith said the Hollows for Habitat project, driven by Mr Talamo, had engaged local people who were keen to see the native hollow-dependant fauna of the region thrive.

‘‘We always have good turnouts for our nest box-focused Marsupial Mansions field days at the Heathcote Neighbourhood House, and appreciate City of Bendigo’s support for this particular project.’’

For more information about nest boxes and Whroo Goldfields CMN events, contact Janice Mentiplay-Smith on janicem@gbcma.vic.gov.au or 0418316169.

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