Home Open!

Installation + Maintenance

Congratulations on owning your own piece of garden habitat real estate!

 

Each HabitART is unique and has different installation instructions depending on the target tenant's needs.  No two host trees are alike either!   Scroll down to read the information relevant to your HabitART, and make sure with heavy items they are supported top and bottom.  Please contact me if you have any questions about your HabitART piece and how to install and maintain it.

Parrot_icon.jpg

Parrots

Do:

  • Be safe, wear protective gear and have a friend hold the ladder!

 

  • Place the nest box where it is sheltered from wind and rain, and is not in full sun.  In the southwest of WA, facing the entry hole in an easterly or south easterly direction away from cold southwesters and full northern sun is suggested.

 

  • Locate the box with a clear flight path to and from the perch, and well above predator access – cats in particular will hear chicks in the nest and hunt them.  If you can, fit a climbing barrier to the tree or trunk you have hung your nest box in. 

 

  • Fix the nest box at least 4m above ground and 5 – 6m if you can.  The higher up the safer they will be.  Each HabitART box is different, so fixing options will depend on your design.  Generally multi-strand wire can be used to tie the box to a trunk.  Thread it through retic pipe to prevent ringbarking and leave enough wire so you can loosen the tie as the trunk grows.  For heavy boxes and extra stability, you can attach and angle bracket to the base to support the weight.  For some box types, you can screw them directly to the tree or a building if you have a suitable location.

 

  • Expect that it will take a while before your parrots find their new nest, sometimes nesting boxes have to age a little so they seem less strange so expect a season or two before they use the box.  Having boxes in a variety of settings and aspects can help give birds seasonal choices too and make use more likely.  You may need to try a different location if your box is not being used.  You could also hang wild bird seed next to the new box when you first install it, as a little ‘house warming’ gift to catch their eye and encourage them to visit the ‘home open’!

 

  • Regularly check that feral (honey) bees or ants have not moved in.  Your box has been designed with an air gap at the top or metal roof to discourage bees, but they can be aggressive hollow invaders.  If you have a continuing problem with bees in the box, attaching insulation wool to the box ceiling makes it hard for bees to fix honeycombs and may help deter them.

 

  • Your Parrot Palace is made of recycled and up-cycled materials so will need maintenance from time to time.  Check for splits and cracks once a year and fill with no-more-gaps (NOT silicon) so the box stays warm and dry.  Oil the exterior with Linseed oil or other non-toxic oil.  Check the interior for chewing damage and sharp edges and the attachments to make sure it’s still fixed securely.  You can add fresh bedding after chicks have fledged.  Parrots like to chew so small hardwood chips can be added to a soft bed of peppermint (Agonis flexuosa) leaves or sheoak needles for the hen to nest in. Make sure you can access the box safely and wear gloves to protect yourself from any sharp edges.

 

Please do not:

  • Disturb or handle your chicks, you’ll know they have hatched from the chirping while the hen is out foraging.
     

  • Move or maintain your nest box in the breeding season (Spring and early Summer), as the eggs and chicks will not survive the disturbance.

Owl_Icon.jpg

Owls

Do:

  • Be safe, wear protective gear and have a friend hold the ladder!
     

  • Place the nest box where it is sheltered from wind and rain, and is not in full sun.  In the southwest of WA, facing the entry hole in an easterly or south easterly direction away from cold southwesters and full northern sun is suggested.  Owls sometimes roost in outbuildings, so if you know you have them perching in buildings you might also try a nest box in a quiet corner.
     

  • Locate the box with a clear flight path to and from the landing platform, and well above predator access – cats in particular hunt chicks.  If you can, fit a climbing barrier to the tree or trunk you have hung your nest box in, this may also discourage possums from taking up residence if you only want an owl.
     

  • Fix the nest box at least 4m above ground and 5 – 6m if you can.  The higher up the safer they will be.  Each HabitART box is different, so fixing options will depend on your design.  Generally multi-strand wire can be used to tie the box to a trunk.  Thread it through retic pipe to prevent ringbarking and leave enough wire so you can loosen the tie as the trunk grows.  For heavy boxes and extra stability, you should also attach and angle bracket to the base to support the weight.  For some box types, you can screw them directly to the tree - or a building if you have a suitable location.
     

  • Expect that it will take a while before your owls find their new nest, sometimes nesting boxes have to age a little so they seem less strange so expect a season or two before they use the box.  You may also need to try a different location if your box is not being used.  Avoid locations with light shining into the box or a lot of daytime activity.
     

  • Regularly check feral (honey) bees or ants have not moved in.  Your box has been designed with an air gap at the top or a metal roof to discourage bees, but they can be aggressive hollow invaders.  If you have a continuing problem with bees in the box, attaching insulation wool to the box ceiling makes it hard for bees to fix honeycombs and may help deter them.
     

  • Your Owl nest box is made of recycled and up-cycled materials so will need maintenance from time to time.  Check for splits and cracks once a year and fill with no-more-gaps (NOT silicon) so the box stays warm and dry.  Oil the exterior with Linseed oil or other non-toxic oil.  Check the interior for chewing damage and sharp edges and the attachments to make sure it’s still fixed securely.  You can add fresh bedding after chicks have fledged.  A soft bed of peppermint (Agonis flexuosa) leaves or sheoak needles makes a nice nesting base. Make sure you can access the box safely and wear gloves to protect yourself from any sharp edges.

 

Please do not:

  • Use rodent poisons – and in particular single dose types.  Rodenticides that kill after a single feed leave rats easily caught while ill, often with a stomach full of still-active poison, which when ingested by an owl is usually fatal.  Poisons which kill only after several small meals MAY be safer, but if you can, avoid poisons altogether and let your owls help you manage rodents.  Your pets and other native animals will thank you too.
     

  • Disturb or handle chicks.  Sometimes young owls will appear ‘lost’ but are just practicing flying and the parent will continue to watch and feed them.  If they are on a road or in immediate danger, carefully place them on a nearby branch in a sheltered spot.  Only ‘rescue’ young owls if you are absolutely sure they have been abandoned and contact your local wildlife carer first.
     

  • Move or maintain your nest box in the breeding season (Spring and early Summer), as the eggs and chicks will not survive the disturbance.

Bat_Icon.jpg

Micro-Bats

Do:

  • Be safe, wear protective gear and have a friend hold the ladder!

 

  • Place the roost box where it is sheltered from wind and rain, and gets at least half a day’s sun (not full shade).  You will need to consider heat build-up dependent on your location, bats like to be warm, but if you live somewhere that gets blistering summers, summer shade and winter sun might be a better option.  In the southwest of WA, a north or north easterly facing position is suggested.

 

  • Secure the box with a clear flight path too and from the landing pad, and well above predator access – cats in particular will learn where your little bats are visiting and hunt them.  Your Bat Boudoir can be attached to a tree with a clear trunk or a to building wall, and the roost needs to be at least 3m above ground.

 

  • Expect that it will take a while before your bats find their new boudoir, sometimes nesting boxes have to age a little so they seem less strange so think months not weeks.  Having boxes in a variety of settings and aspects can help give bats seasonal choices too and make use more likely.  Bats need water within about 400m from their roost and generally drink by skimming, if you have a pond or large drinking bowl with a clear flight path, they may use that.

 

  • Check feral bees have not moved in from time to time – shine a torch up at night when the box is empty.  Your box has been designed to be narrow so as to discourage bees and predators.

 

  • Check for splits and cracks once a year and fill with no-more-gaps (NOT silicon) so the box stays warm and dry.  Your Bat Boudoir is made of recycled and up-cycled materials so will need maintenance from time to time.  Make sure you can reach it safely and wear gloves to protect yourself from any sharp edges.

 

Please do not:

  • Disturb or handle your bats, you’ll know they have moved in when you see droppings below the box, or activity at dusk.

  • Move or maintain your bat box in the breeding season (Spring and early Summer), as the pups will not survive the disturbance.

Native Bees

Bee_Icon.jpg

Do:

  • Place your bee box 1 to 2m off the ground in a visible spot.  Face it north or northeast for warmth and protection from winter weather.  Secure it so that it doesn’t move in high winds, and try and position the front face so it keeps as dry as possible.  Your bee boudoir may include clay blocks - this is natural un-fired clay (so that bees can excavate and tunnel) and needs to be protected from rain and sprinklers.
     

  • Place it near – or plant – bee food.  Bottlebrushes, eucalypts and pea flowers such as the native wisteria, are some favourites.  A vegi patch with things in flower year round is also a nice place for a bee to visit and blue banded bees in particular are great for tomato pollination.
     

  • Maintain your bee box.  Mites and mould can infect old nests and dead larvae, and predator insects may also take up residence.  Plan to give your bee box some TLC in autumn with a fine pipe cleaner, rolled up sandpaper, or similar.   Check the wood frame for splits and cracks and fill with no-more-gaps (NOT silicon) so the box stays warm and dry, wet nesting blocks can encourage mould growth.  Oil the exterior with Linseed oil or other non-toxic oil.  Check the roost holes for damage and sharp edges and replace any old or broken nest tubes.  Larvae tubes should have a closed end, must be a minimum of 10cm deep and between 3 and 10mm wide.  Some experts recommend changing larvae tubes every 2 to three years to help manage disease.  Please monitor bee use and if your box was humming with activity but after a few years is empty, you may need to change over the nesting blocks and tubes.

Please do not:

  • Build large multi-user insect hotels.  New research is beginning to show that these increase the risk of disease, parasitism and predation and in some studies, have been shown to cause a drop in solitary bee numbers.  In nature these bees live in small clusters scattered amoung food habitat – they don’t like hi-rise apartments!
     

  • Use chemical pesticides, of course…..  There are a number of organic products on the market which help support natural pest control.

Possum_Icon.jpg

Ringtail Possums

Do:

  • Be safe, wear protective gear and have a friend hold the ladder!
     

  • Be prepared to share your garden fruit and flowers, especially those growing along fence lines, it's a small price to pay for helping a small  endangered critter.

 

  • Place the Possum Pod where it is sheltered from wind and rain, and is not in full sun.  In the southwest of WA, facing the entry hole in an easterly or south easterly direction away from cold southwesters and full northern sun is suggested. 
     

  • Locate the pod near a climbing branch, as high as possible and well above predator access – cats in particular will climb to hunt baby possums.  Ringtails generally move branch to branch at canopy height, so locating the drey where they can reach it without having to come down to the ground will more likely see it being used.

 

  • Fix the pod securely so it doesn’t move in the wind.  Cable ties can be pushed through the wool and frame and secured around branches or to ropes for larger trunks.  Make sure you don’t inadvertently ringbark the tree or branch.
     

  • Expect that it will take a while before your possums find their new drey, sometimes nesting pods and boxes have to age a little so they seem less strange so expect a season or two before they use the box.  You may need to try a different location if your pod is not being used.  You might like to pop an apple inside as a little ‘house warming’ gift to encourage them to inspect the new real estate, but don’t feed them after this.  Avoid locations with light shining into the box or a lot of daytime activity.
     

  • Your Possum Pod is made of recycled and up-cycled materials so will need maintenance from time to time.  Make sure it’s empty and check for rips in the wool wrap and patch so the drey stays warm and dry.  Check the interior for chewing damage and sharp edges, and the attachments to make sure it’s still fixed securely.  You can add fresh bedding, peppermint (Agonis flexuosa) leaves or sheoak needles make a nice nesting base. Make sure you can access the box safely and wear gloves to protect yourself from any sharp edges.

 

Please do not:

  • Trap and relocate Ringtails.  This little possum is on the Critically Endangered list and is territorial.  Possums moved to a new territory struggle to survive and relocation can be a death sentence.
     

  • Move or maintain your drey in the breeding season (Winter and Spring), the joey is most vulnerable in the first 4 to 6 months of life.
     

  • Feed them – they are healthier if left to forage for their natural diet.

Small Birds

Little-bird.jpg

Bird Nests

Do:

  • Be safe, wear protective gear and have a friend hold the ladder!
     

  • Place the nest where it is sheltered from wind and rain, and is not in full sun.  In the southwest of WA, an easterly or south easterly aspect away from cold southwesters and full northern sun is suggested.
     

  • Locate the nest with a clear flight path to and from the perch, and well above predator access – cats in particular will hear chicks in the nest and hunt them.  If you can, fit a barrier to the tree or trunk you have hung your nest box in. 

 

  • Fix the nest box at least 3m above ground.  The higher up the safer they will be.  Each HabitART nest is different, so fixing options will depend on your design. 

  • Expect that it will take a while before your little birds find their new nest, sometimes nests have to age a little so they seem less strange.  Having boxes in a variety of settings and aspects can help give birds seasonal choices too and make use more likely.  You may like to hang wild bird seed next to the new box when you first install it, as a little ‘house warming’ gift to catch their eye and encourage them to visit the ‘home open’!

 

  • Your HabitART is made of recycled and up-cycled materials so will need maintenance from time to time.  Check for splits and cracks once a year and fill with no-more-gaps (NOT silicon) so the nest stays warm and dry.  Oil any exterior wood  with Linseed oil or other non-toxic oil.  Check the interior for damage and sharp edges, and the attachments to make sure it’s still fixed securely.  You can add fresh bedding after chicks have fledged -  a soft bed of peppermint (Agonis flexuosa) leaves or sheoak are a good option.
     

Please do not:

  • Disturb or handle your chicks, you’ll know they have hatched from the chirping while the hen is out foraging.
     

  • Move or maintain your nest in the breeding season (Spring and early Summer), as the eggs and chicks will not survive the disturbance.

 

Bird baths and feeders

Do:

  • Keep the bowl scrupulously clean.
     

  • Place the bowl in a spot where birds will be able to see cats and predators approaching.

 

  • Maintain the base.  Your HabitART is made of recycled and up-cycled materials so will need maintenance from time to time.  If you have a golf club birdbath, keep an eye on rust in the clubs and when it becomes too extensive visit your local tip shop a grab three equal sized clubs.  Punch a hole in the top of the rubber handle grip and thread the new club onto the metal rods under the bowl.  Bowls can be found in Op shops if yours breaks, or use a glazed planter pot saucer.