Nesting boxes built for owls

Lowanna College students Bailey, Jarrod, George, Seth and Tristan with science teacher Judy Stewart with some of the bird boxes they built for boobook owls. photograph hayley mills

Lowanna College students Bailey, Jarrod, George, Seth and Tristan with science teacher Judy Stewart with some of the bird boxes they built for boobook owls. photograph hayley mills

Rare and hardly seen, boobook owls will have a new place to live following the initiative of eight Lowanna College students.

The students have built four nesting boxes over the past month which will be placed in the canopies of trees in the Ollerton Avenue Bushland Reserve which runs alongside the school.

Lowanna College science teacher Judy Stewart said students learnt a range of skills while building the boxes which are expected to increase biodiversity in the Newborough reserve.

"We've got some owls around this area but less boobook owls and nesting places because trees take 70 to 200 years to have a nesting place for one of these owls," Ms Stewart said.

"Instead of waiting 200 years to get the bigger owls here, we're providing them with a home.

"It helps the students understand the ecology, the environment and the food chain – if you don't have the larger predatory birds then your food web's not complete."

Student Tristian Farrell said it took the group about four hours over a number of classes to build the boxes – made from seven ply wood donated by Law Somerville Industries.

"We learnt what the owls need in their boxes ... like how the paint can't be an [oil based paint] because they won't like the smell and we put carpet in the roofs so the bees won't be able to make a hive in there," Tristian said.

Woodwork teacher Ross Jackson said students were able to use existing boxes to build "something positive for the environment".

"The boxes had to be built to exact specifications to suit the owls needs' in terms of the size of the opening, a perch for them to sit on and enough space for them to enter the box ," Mr Jackson said.

The boxes will be hung in the middle canopies of the trees.

"They can't go on the top of a tree because it's too wavy and not too low because the fledglings need to be overseen by the parents," Ms Stewart said.

"You don't want to put the boxes on a branch either because they'll wave so it needs to be on the trunk – otherwise it's like the birds getting seasick."

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