Artificial nests being used by Tasmanian Shy Albatross

Nests of mudbrick and aerated concrete have proven to be hospitable for the Tasmanian Shy Albatross, with the vulnerable sea birds shown to have used the artificial habitats.

As part of a trial program to increase breeding among the species, 120 pre-constructed nests were flown across the Bass Strait to Albatross Island in an air and sea operation which brought together Tasmanian and Australian Governments, WWF Australia, CSIRO Marine Climate Impact and the Tasmanian Albatross Fund.

Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment Wildlife Biologist Rachael Alderman said the first post-installation monitoring trip this week has shown that most of the artificial nests are being used by the birds.

“This is fantastic to see as the operation was several years in the planning,” she said.

“This trial is based on the simple theory that if ready-made high-quality nests are put in areas where nests are typically of lower quality, we increase the chances of albatross pairs successfully raising a chick.”

WWF-Australia’s Head of Living Ecosystems Darren Grover said with breeding success key to maintaining viable populations, the nests were seen as an important measure.

“If good quality, artificial nests help more chicks survive until they are big enough to fly then over time that could make a real difference to the population,” he said.

“After several proto-types, the team developed an artificial nest that mimics a good quality real nest.”