Wildlife at home in the hollows

Look up next time you walk through the Flagstaff Gardens or Royal Park and you might be lucky enough to see birds enjoying our new, human-made tree hollows.

Mature trees provide vital nesting spots and food sources for wildlife, so as some trees succumb to age, and as our city rapidly grows, we’re working hard to protect our feathered and furry neighbours.

Late last year, we sent out 200 volunteers armed with binoculars to study birds nesting in tree hollows at five parks across the municipality.

A bird in a tree hollow

While the City of Melbourne is home to many hollow-nesting birds, the study found only a few species nesting in parks.

We suspect this is due to a lack of suitably-sized hollows, so we’ve started to create new, human-made hollows in existing trees. We’ll see which species move in thanks to motion-detecting cameras.

Stephen Griffiths from LaTrobe University is one of the advisors for this project.

He said hollows can take more than 100 years to form naturally, but urban environments can provide great opportunities for innovative tree management and people-led conservation strategies.

‘Hollow-dependent birds and mammals are facing localised population declines in many areas across Australia where mature native trees have been removed from the landscape,’ Stephen said.

‘Mechanical creation of cavities within living trees has great potential as supplementary habitats for native hollow-dependent birds and mammals.

‘As there are still many questions to be answered, this is an exciting time to be working on this type of collaborative and proactive conservation project.’

To find out more, visit Urban Nature.

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