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Reject wheelie bins are being used as giant nesting boxes as part of an attempt to provide habitats for some of Australia’s largest bird species whose populations are under threat. Birds such as parrots and owls and other wildlife need large tree hollows to nest and breed, but large natural hollows can take over 100 years to form. Constant land development and deforestation has wiped out a lot of habitats. Many of the trees left in the wild are less than 70 years old, and it might take another 70 years before they are fit to be a habitat.
A builder came up with the idea of cutting holes in an old wheelie bin and fixing it to a tree. The idea of the wheelie bin nesting box was born. Some companies have even offered him their reject wheelie bins to make more boxes.
The nesting box design
The wheelie bin nesting box includes a timber landing pad, with mesh acting as a ladder for younger birds to make their way in and out. There are also chewing posts and woodchip that can be used as nesting material.
If the boxes were made out of timber, because they would need to be so large that it would be hard to fix them to the tree and it would also be costly.
Another man who is involved with the project has set up motion-sensitive cameras so the nesting boxes can be monitored. This way, they can keep track of what species of bird are using them.
Volunteers have also planted thousands of native trees and shrubs across Tasmania and Melbourne for wildlife to nest and breed in, and they are also trialling the use of chainsaws to create hollows in branches, effectively speeding up the natural hollowing process.
In Western Australia, the introduction of a range of artificial boxes to help protect the endangered Carnaby's black cockatoo has been a success, and one of the ingenious inventions has been dubbed the "Cockatube," a makeshift habitat made from black plastic tubing recovered from mining sites.
Will the wheelie bins work?
There are four wheelie bin nest boxes being trialled currently, though they have not been as popular as the natural hollows with birds so far. Experts have commented that birds will always favour a natural habitat over a man-made one. But the wheelie bin boxes can be produced quickly; one can be made in only 30 minutes. If they become popular they could be distributed across the country very quickly.