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Birds of Australia - species that build nests in hollows

Back to the main page on different types of nest .

Hollows can either pre-exist and just be furbished to suit the needs of birds looking for a place to nest or they can be actively created, e.g. by digging a cavity out of some suitable material. Here a few examples (we present nest tunnels on a separate page).

NB: Note that some species may build a basket-shaped (stick) nest inside a hollow.

Hollows are naturally present, or can be created, in a number of different settings:

Tree Depending on the size of the bird and its nest, hollows in trees can be either in the trunk or in a branch
Termite mound on the ground Termite mounds have an extremely hard outer shell that can protect a bird's nest
Arboreal termite mound Some bird species specialize in using arboreal termite mounds as replacements for other types of hollows
Rock crevice Crevices or ledges in cliffs and escarpments can provide shelter for bird nests

 

Tree

eucalypts, in particular those commonly referred to as "box gums", are prone to incur internal damage due to termite infestation. Many trees have a sound outer shell, but rotten core. This, and entry points such as openings in knots where branches have previously fallen off, offers birds (and other animals) the opportunity to create and use hollows for roosting and/or for nesting.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

(Only species for which we have some kind of breeding information of our own are shown here.)

Photos

Deep hollow inside an eucalypt tree (about 0.8-1.0 m) with an Australian Wood Duck nest inside
[, NSW, August 2013]

Entrance to the nesting hollow of a pair of Sacred Kingfishers
[, NSW, 2005]

Termite mound on the ground

We are aware of only 3 species of Australian parrots, all in the genus "Psephotus", that nest(ed) in termite mounds on the ground. Two, the Hooded Parrot of the Top End of the NT, and the "Golden-shouldered Parrot" (Psephotus chrysopterygius; resident in far-northern QLD; not yet shown on this website) are extant. One other, the "Paradise Parrot" (Psephotus pulcherrimus) that formerly resided in SE QLD, is presumed extinct.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

(Only species for which we have some kind of breeding information of our own are shown here.)

Photos

We have observed three Hooded Parrots busying themselves around a termite mound, but could not find a nesting hollow
[Pine Creek, NT, August 2014]

Arboreal termite mound

Although termite mounds are very hard (and therefore tough to penetrate), they also offer extra protection. Some bird species make use of this by drilling nesting hollows into termite mounds, both in trees (no photo available yet) and on the ground [described below].

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

(Only species for which we have some kind of breeding information of our own are shown here.)

Rock crevice

Some species, mostly raptors and seabirds whose preferred habitats include cliffs or escarpments, tend to use natural hollows for nesting. Note that such natural crevices can be replaced by artificial structures, such as e.g. fissures in walls.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

(Only species for which we have some kind of breeding information of our own are shown here.)

Photos

Peregrine Falcon nest with 2 eggs in it (photo courtesy of D. Johnston)
[Pilliga scrub, NSW, 1980ies]

Tunnel

Nest tunnels, which can be seen as a type of hollow, are described on a separate page on nest tunnels.

On other continents: Cacti

On other continents (e.g. the Americas) birds excavate hollows out of the trunks of cacti as well.