Wildlife nest box monitoring program at Caroline Chisholm Catholic College

Garema nest box program: This project has been ongoing since 2008. Since 2008, Year 9 students have taken part in the design and construction of nest boxes for native animals. This is done as part of their Environmental Action Project while they are on camp at Garema. One nest box is made by each class and installed on one of the significant trees in the Garema forest. Over the years more than 120 nest boxes have been installed providing a vast amount of habitat for the local wildlife.

Why are nest boxes so important? 

Tree hollows — 100 years in the making. Hollow formation is dependent on a tree’s history, its species and location. Hollows are mostly found in old eucalypt trees, and are rare in many other native and introduced species such as wattle and pine. Valuable hollows for wildlife are generally found in mature and dead trees. Openings range from as small as 2 cm to as large as 75 cm, with depths ranging anywhere from 10 cm to 10 metres. Young trees do not generally contain the valuable hollows for wildlife as they are healthy and resilient to the numerous factors contributing to hollow formation.

The nest boxes show evidence of continual use with numerous birds and arboreal mammals sighted using the boxes. Species include Sugar glider, Brush tailed phascogale, Brush and Ring-tailed possums, Crimson Rosella, Spotted pardalote, Owlet Nightjar and various micro-bats.

Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps)

A recent development in this program has been the installation of motion-capture wildlife cameras although access to the site, and therefore data has been limited by COVID-19 restrictions. The success of this program has inspired an expansion of the program to our two urban sites, Sacred Heart/St Johns (SHSJ) and Christ the King (CTK) campuses in Braybrook in Melbourne’s inner-west. Nest boxes have been constructed and installed by students for both of these sites.

Painting the nest boxes and preparing the wildlife cameras