Sunday 21 April 2013

Toodyay Community Workshop - Black-Cockatoos

This weekend we had the privilege of running a nest-box building workshop in Toodyay, just east of Perth. Here's how the story went...

The hills were shrouded in mist and glistening dew-drops as we jumped in our vehicle, laden with recycled building material and tools, and followed the winding road heading east early on Saturday morning. After a compulsory coffee-stop in Toodyay, we arrived at a friend's property, surrounded by rolling hills of beautiful Wandoo woodland, to set our equipment up. Georgie Troup, who is a local sustainable agriculture officer with Wheatbelt NRM, was inspired to engage the community and provide some extra breeding sites for Carnaby's Black-Cockatoos. About 70 birds regularly visit the area and at least one breeding site was known. Given the success of Simon's boxes in the Porongurups in encouraging extra breeding pairs, we were as keen as mustard to see if this threatened species would use nest boxes in Toodyay.

About 11 local community members arrived (some of whom had brought work benches and tools galore!), and after a quick cuppa, we began the session with our presentation on tree hollows and creating nest boxes from recycled material. The woodwork soon commenced and the workshop was full of happy voices and the sounds of saws, hammers and drills as the first five boxes took shape. These were designed to be vertically orientated with a section of hollow log on the lid, and 'bee-proof' to prevent invasion by these feral pests. By lunchtime we had all 5 boxes completed and were ready for a great surprise.

Toodyay community members Greg and Vicki get stuck into the woodwork!
Even the kids were keen to be involved!
Phil and Lou from the Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre then surprised us with a lunchtime educational visit. Phil gave a fantastic detailed overview of the status quo of our three species of black cocky, which was made so much more real by having 'Chasey', a real Carnaby's Cockatoo, there in the flesh. Chasey also gave real meaning to our nest box construction - it's not every day you get to have the bird for whom you are building boxes there to watch!

Chasey shows us how Carnaby's Cockatoos dexterously feed on Marri fruit by holding them carefully in their fingers.
Enthusiasm once again filled the air and by late afternoon we had the last five boxes completed. A quick paint job and some afternoon tea to let it dry had us off to the neighbouring properties to hang the boxes. We are looking forward to the landholders keeping tabs on them and letting us know when they have their first residents.

Please put your comments about the day, or the use (by any species) of your nest box, below.

A big thanks to all the wonderful, dedicated people who came to the workshop and got involved, especially Rex who traveled all the way from Dowerin. Also, thanks to Georgie and Wheatbelt NRM for organising the day.