Growing up in a central European country with pretty cold winters, it was very common to have a nest box or feeder on your tree in the garden. This is to help small birds survive the long and cold winter.
I clearly remember when I was a young boy, around 5-7 years old and the snow covered everything, I could spend hours in our kitchen window watching birds having a feast from the feeder boxes. We carefully made nest boxes and feeders with my dad in his garden shed then we hanged them out and filled them with some tempting nuts and seeds.
The long and cold winter months make small native birds’ lives extremely challenging, food is hardly accessible under the snow, therefore they have to fight for their survival continuously.
Coming to Australia, the bird feeders are not as common as in colder parts of the world but the nest-boxes are actually quite the opposite here. They are used as a way of supplementing the critical accommodation shortage for native wildlife in the suburban areas, not having to share your own home with them.
Unfortunately, most of the available birdhouses in Australia don’t meet the optimal needs of the birds. Their structures and designs are brought over from Europe and they are not really suitable for Australian wildlife.
In nature, the factors of the hollow such as entry size, shape, wall thickness, how protected, and how high it is from the ground determine who moves into it.
Different species have different expectations in terms of the qualities of their home therefore, they don’t just select them randomly.
Native species are extremely cautious by nature and they only move into man-made nest-boxes when they have no other choice. That is why it can take quite a long time, for example, a birdhouse to be occupied and become a home.
How to Make A Nest-box More Appealing For Native Wildlife.
- Create a nice bed in it using dry leaves or mulch and that will stimulate a naturally occurring environment and make them feel more comfortable and secure to accept it as a home.
- If you are planning to make or install a nest-box in your garden, it is best to consider less common species or species that are under threat when it comes to making the decision on the size of the box and its design. Do some research to find which species are in your area and how they like their nests to be, so you can replicate it.
- Ensure you place a suitable size and shape nest box to avoid unwanted feral guests making it home. It is also suggested to monitor your nest-box regularly with minimal disruption if possible to make sure your occupiers are not exposed to any threats.