Strong demand for hollows during spring

NEST: Crimson rosellas, eastern rosellas, lorikeets, boobook owls and kookaburras are among species looking for hollows at this time of year.
NEST: Crimson rosellas, eastern rosellas, lorikeets, boobook owls and kookaburras are among species looking for hollows at this time of year.

Within just a few hours we witnessed a nestbox at Ballarat’s North Gardens being investigated by a pair of crimson rosellas, then a pair of galahs, and then a pair of long-billed corellas.

Each pair showed keen interest, but departed from the scene without any apparent ownership being claimed or achieved.

Now is the clearly the time for birds to be looking for suitable nest sites. Species readily using boxes include those mentioned, as well as eastern rosella, rainbow lorikeet, boobook owl and kookaburra. Other possibilities might include striated pardalote, brush-tailed possum, ring-tailed possum and several species of small bats.

A longer list of potential users could be made for rural and bush areas.

Generally speaking, each species has its own preferences regarding the size of the entrance hole and the depth of the box. Some prefer horizontal boxes. Most species will choose the smallest hole they can fit through.

A disadvantage of erecting nestboxes in suburban and open rural areas is the potential for them to be used by starlings. Control of these pests can be difficult. Another undesirable hollow-user is the common (Indian) myna.

EARLY NANCIES

One of the first native wildflowers for the season is the early nancy, a small white flower with six petals. It is numerous in the Ballarat district from late August.

Follow-up of an early report of early nancy flowering on July 26 found a small colony similar to, but slightly different from, the usual local flowers.

The flowers were slightly smaller and pointier, and their flowering time was clearly earlier than usual.

Subsequent investigations, a few photos, and another visit showed that these were another species of early nancy.

One of its features is its wholly-white flowers, without the dark ring around the base of the flower of the common early nancy. This one did not conform clearly to other species described, but it seemed most like the broad-leaved early nancy, despite its leaves not being noticeably broad.

This interesting discovery was made at Flagstaff Hill, near Linton.

GREENFINCHES

My first local sighting of a greenfinch was not made until mid-August. This is surprisingly late in the year.

The greenfinch is an introduced bird, rarely a nuisance of any sort. It lives in rural and suburban areas, but its numbers appear to be dwindling. More sightings are expected as spring advances; this is the time at which it becomes most prominent. A Ballarat East resident reports fewer greenfinches than formerly.