Shortage of hollows for wildlife is evident

SEARCHING: There are not enough hollows for native marsupials like possums and gliders, and birds such as the eastern rosella.

SEARCHING: There are not enough hollows for native marsupials like possums and gliders, and birds such as the eastern rosella.

A nest box mounted in a tree at Lake Wendouree has attracted numerous birds, but none of them have used it for nesting. The reason for this is not clear.

Rather than being a true nest box, this is a section of hollow log with a lid and a suitable hole near the top.

It has shavings and other material in the bottom.

Over the last few years, it has been investigated by kookaburras, rainbow lorikeets, wood ducks, eastern rosellas, crimson rosellas, galahs, long-billed corellas, starlings and sulphur-crested cockatoos.

All of these have shown interest in the nest site, although wood ducks would not have fitted through the entrance hole. 

My only explanation for the lack of follow through is that there could be a snarling possum already in residence. The box is simply too high to investigate. 

Whatever the reason, there’s clearly a shortage of hollows not only at Lake Wendouree, but across the Ballarat district – and probably across the nation.

Native marsupials, such as possums and gliders, need hollows too. 

A local marsupial known as the eastern pygmy possum needs them for daytime shelter and nesting. It seems to be scarce, although it could be reliably found at Enfield 50 years ago. Fortunately, it can use small holes.

Larger creatures, such as powerful owl, yellow-bellied glider, yellow-tailed black-cockatoo and the ducks, have the most difficulty finding suitable hollows.

A glance around any patch of forest will reveal few useful hollows, so it is no surprise that any good-looking holes or hollows attract many potential users.

Local birds are currently investigating anything resembling a nesting hole, from chimneys to holes in concrete electricity poles and old brickwork.

It’s probably not too late to put up a suitable nest box for this season.

SWANS FLOODED

We recently mentioned 100 or so swans’ nests at Lake Learmonth. They have now all been flooded.

A couple of nests hatched their broods before the heavy rain, but the remainder were submerged. If each of the 100 nests had four eggs, there must be 400 or more that are now in or around Lake Learmonth. The lake is 50cm deep at its deepest point.

Unsuccessful early nests are almost always replaced. This applies to most birds, not just swans. Most of the Learmonth swans will find another site for a second attempt.

Lake Wendouree’s first cygnets appeared a fortnight ago. A couple more broods were spotted after the first was seen. There are still several more to come.