Owl be right, possum - hollows for habitat project success

A recent project untaken by Walcha Area National Parks and Wildlife Service staff installing artificial hollows or nest boxes has had immediate results with both sugar gliders and brush-tail possums moving in within 6 months.

Nesting boxes provide homes for mammals, benefiting powerful owls Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, near Walcha

NPWS Ranger Sam Doak said the project provided homes for arboreal mammals, which then supplemented the food source for threatened owl species.

"A tree without a hollow is like a house without a door for species such as sugar gliders that depend on making their home inside the trunk.

"This project centred on new land recently added to the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park east of Walcha, where there were areas of regrowth where hollows had not yet formed.

"By providing supplementary nest boxes, we were able to encourage the arboreal and ground dwelling fauna to expand their range into regrowth areas.

"This means more homes for possums and sugar gliders.

"A secondary benefit is the additional food source then available for threatened powerful owls and other birds of prey.

"The powerful owl is Australia's largest owl, requiring very large hollows and plenty of food for its young and is found in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.

"An important part of the nesting box project was monitoring the boxes to determine if they were being used.

"The boxes were monitored from the ground, using a remote digital camera, wi-fi, a mobile phone app and a 6 metre extension pole, which minimised the need for disturbance and the use of ropes and ladders.

"The monitoring detected possums and sugar gliders using the nesting boxes and also photographed powerful owls utilising the food source.

"After just six months in operation, this was a great result and indicates the nesting boxes are an important tool in assisting to accelerate natural processes," Mr Doak said.