Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Off to a fabulous phascogaley start: 2021 nest box checks

Posted on 28 April, 2021 by Jess

We are excited to have our dedicated team of volunteers out in the field this month, checking the nest boxes Connecting Country has installed across the Mount Alexander shire and surrounds in central Victoria. For 2021 our nest boxes will be checked by trained and insured volunteers rather than staff. Our volunteers are farmers, students and local community leaders, and bring a range of experience to the project.

Connecting Country commenced our nest box program in 2010 and has installed over 450 nest boxes on private and public land across the region. The nest boxes have been designed specifically for use by the threatened Brush-tailed Phascogale (also known as the Tuan), which is a nocturnal hollow-dependent marsupial that occurs in the local area.

The nest boxes provide supplementary habitat for Tuans and other native animals such as the Sugar Glider, particularly in areas where natural tree hollows are lacking. We anticipate that providing additional nesting sites, albeit artificial, will contribute to an increase in local Tuan populations and distribution. Our nest boxes are located across the landscape systematically so we can examine some of the factors that might influence their use by Tuans and other animals.

Our 2021 team of Volunteer Team Leaders are Ann-Marie, Asha, Beth, Corey, Frances, Kerrie and Kim. They are supported by Connecting Country’s Monitoring Coordinator and a network of volunteer nest box helpers. We thank them for their dedication and commitment to this project and our broader aims of landscape restoration.

Volunteer team leaders attended training in early April 2021, covering the topics of nest box inspections, how to climb a ladder safely, and how to identify species such as phascogales and sugar gliders. Paul Flood from Safety Systems provided the ladder safety training, and helped us improve our systems and processes to keep volunteers safe.

Volunteers sturdy the ladder and apply new safety skills to check a nest box (photo by Connecting Country)


We joined forces with Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club to inspect some nest boxes on 10 April 2021, and were delighted to find both Tuans and Sugar Gliders! This shows the importance of the nest boxes in our landscape, where tree hollows are far and few between. The following photographs show (from left to right) a Tuan, Sugar Glider, Jess from Connecting Country checking a nest box, and participants at the Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club event.


Wanted: volunteer field helpers

We still have some vacancies for volunteer nest box helpers. This role involves assisting Volunteer Team Leaders to conduct nest box surveys, with feet planted firmly on the ground (i.e., not climbing ladders). Tasks include:

  • Travel within the Mount Alexander region
  • Following safety procedures
  • Carrying ladders and equipment to sites
  • Helping to navigate to sites
  • Writing observations and recording data
  • Taking photos
  • Collating and entering data into databases.

Field work roles require working on uneven ground and carrying ladders (these are heavy!) through the bush, sometimes in hot or cold weather. Some sites require hikes through uneven terrain, or climbing over fences. Volunteers require a reasonable level of fitness, and an adventurous spirit!

If you are interested in assisting us, please send a brief email to stating:

  • If you would prefer to assist as a field helper, or in the office
  • Your availability during April and May 2021
  • Why you are interested in volunteering (so we can do our best to make your volunteering experience as useful as possible for you!)
  • Any relevant experience
  • Any questions you have

We look forward to hearing from you!

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