Homes for Hawk-owls: A community conservation project

Nest-box Pilot Study

Christmas Island Hawk-owl

Range to Reef has recently erected 30 artificial nest boxes on Christmas Island to trial the use of the boxes as a future conservation strategy to improve nesting opportunities for the EPBC Act listed Christmas Island hawk-owl. The project, funded by Phosphate Resources Limited (PRL) incorporates a strong citizen science element with involvement of Christmas Island High School students to build the boxes, and then undertake a monitoring program of their use. This will engage the students with their local environment while working towards important conservation objectives.

Christmas Island District High School students standing under a nest box installed on the school oval.

The Christmas Island Hawk-Owl

The hawk owl is Christmas Island’s only recorded owl species, and it is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN and under the EPBC Act . Little is known about their breeding biology, but they are known to nest in tall canopy trees of the primary rainforest where over time, natural forces like wind breakage and lightning strike create hollow cavities in the trees. Parts of Christmas Island were historically cleared for settlement, industrial use, mining and Island infrastructure, and it is likely that potential nesting trees were removed during this time. The young trees that remain in these areas present limited hollows, and therefore limits nesting opportunities for the hawk-owl.

R2R commenced the pilot study earlier this year with erection of the boxes in areas of disturbed land on Christmas Island. R2R designed nest-boxes for the hawk-owl with input from Parks Australia staff and expert ornithologists. A partnership was then established with the Christmas Island District High School to build the boxes, with students making thirty as part of their Technology Education curriculum.

Watch the slideshow below to see the different stages of the project, from formply to canopy high installations.

More information can be found about this project here:

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