Whilst the Rock Farm is blessed with many hundreds of trees, only a handful of our trees are large old trees, with all important nesting hollows for our native birds. Hollow logs and branches take literally hundreds of years to form – and are prized by native birds for nesting. With our young areas of re-growth promising excellent habitat in the future, we thought we would lend our birds a helping hand.
One way to assist native birds, even in an area with as many trees as ours, is to build nesting boxes. They replicate the hollows that take so long to form. There is a wealth of information online, with plans freely available. There is also a significant amount of science involved too, with the size of the box, the entry diameter and other features critical for many species.
We armed with this excellent publication from the Local Land Services (available online here: http://greatersydney.lls.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/656610/GS-LLS-Wildlife-Nest-Box-2016_Final-Accessible.pdf). With our heads full of plans and ideas it was time to get building.
The boys had a look around the Rock Farm Resource Centre – also known as Dad’s Shed, and we found some old flooring that was looking for a new purpose.
This was to be the boy’s own project. In the interests of expediency (I was looking forward to an afternoon nap) I might have cheated and run the timber through the bench saw to cut it, but I was working to their design. The old adage of measure twice and cut once was in force… but soon there was so much pencil lines on the boards it was hard to tell which ones to cut!
The boy’s initial thoughts were that this would be easy… but like all good plans, they soon realised that assembling the boxes would take a little effort. I told them they couldn’t use glue – so it was hammer and nails only. The Little Helper found his soft oregon boards were easy to work, but the Little Fisherman regretted his selection of thick hardwood boards. He ended up pre-drilling his holes, and only broke one drill bit in the process.
To their credit, I only was used to hold things together a couple of times. The bench saw made small adjustments easy and before long we had a couple of neat little boxes ready to hang in the trees.
The best way to secure the boxes to the trees is via two bugle headed screws. This causes far less damage to the tree than tying wire around the branch. We mounted the boxes in a Scribbly Gum (Eucalyptus Haemastoma). We are just now waiting for our first guests to move in!
It was a wonderful way to spend a morning with my gorgeous boys. They learnt a few new skills, and as a bonus, we get to help a few little birds get a head start.