We started making bird boxes for rosellas with the local school kids and loved it so much we ended up making 150 boxes for 9 different species “I used to keep birds in cages – I would never do that anymore”, said Bob. He is quietly passionate about looking after our wild bird populations and helping them to flourish. We spoke to Bob Evans and Shane McManus from the St Leonards Men’s Shed.
‘We‘d like to raise awareness about the immense value of those old gum trees for our native animals. And also try and protect the ones that are left and give them the potential to regenerate seedlings. Those old gums need 100 years to produce the hollows that are suitable for wildlife. Many people are using these old gums for firewood so that is why there is a need for breeding and habitat boxes for birds and mammals.
Sophie Small from Bellarine Landcare adds “Bob approached us about building the boxes, we had some funding from a Victoria Landcare Grant and the City of Greater Geelong. It’s been quite a learning process for all of us to get the right design for the boxes, and learn about the best ways of installing them up trees, the right position that the different species require, etc.”
“The Men’s Shed now have designs for 9 species of fauna – ringtail possums, eastern rosellas, microbats, boobook owls, sacred kingfishers, grey thrushes, pardalote, welcome swallows and kookaburras. All of them require a different sized and shaped box with a different size entrance! “
The boys continue, “Our Men’s Shed worked with St Leonards Primary School students to build 8 boxes. This gets the kids thinking about conservation. Their boxes were covered with old fence palings to look authentic but we found them to be too heavy. These have been installed around the St Leonards Lake Reserve.
“The Bellarine Bayside Coastal Committee have also been involved in purchasing 50 nest boxes for their reserves at Point Richards at Portarlington and the Lower Bluff at St Leonard.
“There will be lots of birdwatching groups monitoring who’s using them. There is one species of owls who use them all year round. Over winter many of the birds move out and possums move in.
Shane adds, “We have 34 in our St Leonards Men Shed group. Our oldest member turned 94 recently and our youngest is in High School. He comes along with a carer after school every second week and tinkers around making things and learns about the tools.
“Men’s Sheds are a wonderful addition to the community. We’ve made cubbies, a gahgah pit, a learning garden, vegetable garden enclosures and pavers with for the local St Leonards Primary School. We’ve provided picnic tables and mulch to Bellarine Bayside. Each club has different relationships with different parts of the community. It is all linking and strengthening the community.”
Story: Jacqui Bennett Photo supplied thanks to the Bellarine Bayside Coastal Committee shows Bob on the left with Shane. St Leonards P.S. kids with the Mens Shed taken by Sophie Small.