Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Penguin nest box building

This year 200 nest boxes have been completed. Last week a final penguin nest box blitz build took place.  Some of the nest boxes have already been put out into the colony and used by penguins to raise their chicks.  This project is a collaborative effort between Robben Island Museum, Animal Demography Unit, and the Leiden Conservation Foundation. 

Leanne Tol directing the nest box building.

Zingfa Wala putting the pieces together.
Esther Mostert at work.
Greg Campbell constructing a box.

Nest boxes piling up...
Nest boxes being transported to the old jail where they will be numbered and varnished.
Boxes are numbered...
Kate Robinson spray painting nest box numbers.

The team starts painting the nest boxes with varnish to waterproof the wood...

The boxes are then left to dry, placed in number order. The nest boxes have a metal number tag attached and a layer of silicone waterproofing at the top of the nest box.

Thanks to Leshia Upfold who provided the metal tags for the nest boxes, they will help with the identification of nest boxes in the field. Once dry and tagged nest boxes can be transported to areas where penguins are known to nest on Robben Island.

We built 21 nest boxes and varnished 65 last week. There are 50 already in the penguin colony. They are being monitored and a few of them were even used by penguins this breeding season.
Chicks in one of the new nest boxes on Robben Island taken by Leanne Tol.
The ultimate stamp of approval, successful penguin breeding in a new nest box.

Wooden nest boxes have the potential to raise breeding success at the Robben Island penguin colony if used (Sherley et al. 2012). Hopefully with more nest boxes available even more penguins will make use of these new nest boxes during the breeding season next year.

Thanks to all those that have volunteered and assisted with this work!

SherleyRichard B.BarhamBarbara J.BarhamPeter J.LeshoroT. Mario, and UnderhillLes G. 2012. Artificial nests enhance the breeding productivity of African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus) on Robben Island, South AfricaEMU 112, 97–106.

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