By Kathryn Kermode
I’ve spent the day learning about the creatures that require hollows for habitat and making a habitat box for gliders. For me the box making was the highlight of an interesting day spent with Tara and Peter at Northern Landcare Supports Services office in Kyogle. The box was my kind of kit, making it was as simple as unwrapping the flat pack and screwing together a few bits of predrilled plywood, all I needed was a Phillips head screwdriver. But this is the easy bit of the task as my tall partner points out as we leave, for he knows only too well that it will be him who will be climbing trees this weekend doing the tricky bit of the installation while I have my feet firmly on the ground holding the ladder steady with one hand while I pass up drills, bolts and boxes with the other.
We have done this before; my first hollow log home was constructed with a hardwood face screwed onto a plywood box. Its natural hole was too small or the box was too clumsy and big so it was only suited to small creatures that were not fussy about their hollow log home. It had a hinged lid so we could inspect any creatures that moved or clean out the box if it was invaded by ferals such as Honey Beas or Indian Mynas. This I learnt was unnecessary as to be honest after installing the box in a tree on a far away hill there was no chance of us ever lugging the ladder back up the hill for an inspection. We installed the old box in a shady bit of bush where there was a variety of different species and a great view. I then waited for something to find my box appealing. A few weeks later a massive bolt of lightning struck the cluster of trees, it blew the epiphytes off the tree trunks and sent woodchips from the guts of the beautiful big ribbonwood flying in all directions Three big trees died but my wildlife box survived even though the now naked patch of sticks seemed a less appealing place to live. Finally after several years something did move in to my box and I spied a small furred face peering from the entrance hole. My excitement was short lived though for when I returned to check on the residents I found my box lying on the ground, the spring I had used to allow for the expansion of the tree had rusted through and brought the box down.
The box spent the next couple of years sitting on top of the pile of unfinished projects, that is until Tara and Peter inspired me again.
We have installed my new glider box on the trunk of a Yellow Stringybark and already I am anxious for something to move in. There are various methods for installing wildlife boxes and it is a good idea to do some research before deciding which the best for your situation is. Alan and Stacey Franks have some great tips and easy designs for wildlife boxes in their book, Nest Boxes for Wildlife. They also sell boxes that are ready to install. Flat pack nest boxes for a wild variety of creatures can be obtained from Nest Boxes Australia. These are very simple boxes to construct and would make a great project for interested kids.