Help the Wyndham Gouldians

By Mike Fidler

Over 40 years ago Reg Birch showed me my first Gouldian. Now bird watchers, photographers and tourists from all over the world have been drawn to Wyndham by the prospect of seeing their first Gouldian too.

There have always been Gouldians around Wyndham but their numbers were hugely increased when the Save The Gouldian Fund scientists put up 3,500 nest boxes around the area which led to an increase of nearly 400% more Gouldians over a two year period.

Gouldians nest in holes in Snappy Gums, but over the last 30 years the number of nesting holes has shrunk dramatically causing a shortage of nesting holes and creating too much competition between bats, long tails and Gouldians; and sadly when it comes to competition, nearly always it is the Gouldian which loses out.

The number of holes has declined due to over-frequent hot wildfires. It takes nine years for saplings to become fire resistant and seventy to a hundred years for the Snappy Gum to develop suitable nesting holes, but, once the holes are developed, the mature tree then becomes susceptible to the hot wild fires, so many burn down when the fire goes through.

The Gouldian research continues. Many of you will have seen the towers scattered around the area. We are trying to work out where our Gouldians are going.

Every first week of September we do the GOULDIAN COUNT. This census is done by volunteers from all over the world including some of you locals. Sadly this year, due to the COVID-19 crisis, we have had to cancel it. 

But what the count has shown is that, every year, we get an influx of juveniles from somewhere outside our research area and a large number of our adults have disappeared. So we need to find out where they are going and where have the strangers come from.

Do the Wyndham birds disappear to habitat which doesn’t support them and they die, or is there better habitat somewhere else we don’t know about?

But back to nest boxes.  For the last five years our nest boxes have not been maintained so that now the vast majority have fallen into disrepair and are no longer usable.

We have tried to engage a number of people and organisations to take over the maintenance but the rugged terrain has put them off.

If we cannot replace the nest boxes soon the number of Gouldians flying around Wyndham is likely to drop, SO, as we seem unable to maintain them ourselves, how about YOU putting up nest boxes in your gardens????

As a number of you attract Gouldians by putting out water, we see no reason why, if you put up nest boxes, they would not use them.

So if you fancy having a go, how about coming to a meeting  on Sunday 9th August 10.00am at the Conservation Centre – the old Shire Hall – in Wyndham Port and we will tell you how to go about it? We will have some free nest boxes to give away too!