Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (
www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Climbing Karris

Today I installed another Black Cockatoo nesting box, this one on my friend Jeff's block, which adjoins the Porongurup National Park just east of Mount Barker in Western Australia's south-west. Jeff and I made the box from his Nanna's old wardrobe, and some off-cuts of form-ply that I salvaged from a rubbish collection, earlier this year, and today headed south to put it into the wild. We selected a tall Karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor) in which to place the box and I set up ropes to haul it into place.

The Cockatoo nest-box is hauled up using a locking pulley system.

Drizzly rain covered our campsite soon after the box had been secured, so we took refuge under a camp shelter and drank some port as the afternoon turned to evening. Just before dark, we noticed a pair of Carnaby's Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus latriostris) sail in and land next to a small, slit-like entrance to a hollow in another Karri tree, close to where the nest-box had been installed. Our friends Graham and Kerry were also down camping with us and the four of us watching through drizzly showers as the pair perched near the tree-hollow, with rain dripping off their slender bodies.

Continued observation led us to learn this pair actually had a small chick inside, which we heard them feeding that evening, and again the next morning - a super exciting discovery! Hopefully this breeding activity means the prospects of our new nesting box becoming occupied by this endangered cockatoo are high!

Camping with friends and is a great way to spend the end of the year.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Cockatoo Box

Today I celebrated the beginning of August by installing a giant nest box, designed for Black Cockatoos, in a tall Eucalypt at home. I built the box a few days ago and it’s been sitting on the driveway by our garage. I laughed when I looked out my bedroom window one morning to see a pair of Australian Wood Ducks inspecting it for a nest site! Some animals don’t waste any time in taking up accommodation!

The installation process took a few hours: I had to get my climbing ropes high into the treetops, then set up a huge pulley system to gradually haul the box into place, inches at a time, to its final place at about 15 m. The box weighs about 20 kg so I had to make sure it was fixed properly!

This box is the second of it’s kind that I’ve made from totally recycled form ply, old nails and screws. It measures 1.2 m deep and the base is about 300 mm square. The important thing is to install a ‘ladder’ on the inside so any birds wishing to enter can climb inside and out again without any trouble. I made mine from an old gate to a chicken coop that had quite thick mesh, cut into three pieces and fixed using bent over nails. I was careful to not leave any pieces of wire sticking out because birds could easily cut themselves on this. Some people prefer to use wood but I know that cockatoos would chew this to pieces!

It will be very lucky if any cockatoos use it as Carnaby’s rarely nest this close to Perth, and Red-tails usually have the same nest site for years, but at least the box is in place if they do need it. Let’s keep an eye on it and see what wildlife does move in :-)