Possum & Parrot Nest Boxes

A year ago (seriously, 16 April 2011) Frank and I attended a free workshop put on by our local council where we made 2 nest boxes – one for a sugar glider (a small gliding possum) and one for a Rosella or other small parrot.

At the end of the 1/2-day workshop we had our boxes. They were primered and put together, all we needed to do was a few finishing touches and then just hang the boxes in a tree.

Unfortunately, Frank decided our gum tree wasn’t big enough to hold a box so the whole project faltered. Now it’s 2012 and the gum tree is deemed sturdy enough (it has been filling out) and so I went to work on finishing the boxes. The first step was to paint them. I painted them a dark brown (Mission Brown) in an outdoor solargard paint. It’s the right paint to use but I selected it because it was sitting under the house. It’s the same paint we used for our back stairs.

I then drilled 5 – 5mm holes in the bottom of each for drainage (there are reports of drowned birds). Next I stapled gutter-guard on the inside of both boxes. This is to allow the baby sugar gliders to crawl out. I actually put some on the outside of the sugar glider box in case they need it to get in as well as out (better safe than sorry). I put some on the parrot box because it could always be taken over by a possum.

The two boxes are both the same size. Approximate dimensions are: 450 mm high, 235 mm wide, 235 mm deep with an overhang on the sloped roof of about 40 mm. The hole in the parrot box is on the front and is 75mm in diameter (above left). The hole in the sugar glider box is on the back of the box (next to the tree trunk) and is 30mm in diameter (above right). The strap used to hang it from the tree is made from an old fire hose. If you use rope or wire the suggestion is to wrap that in a length of garden hose to prevent damage to the host tree trunk.

Today Frank put the finishing touches on the boxes by affixing a “perch” to the front of the parrot box and filling both with some wood shavings.

All that was left was to hoist the 2 boxes into the trees. Easy peasy! Very easy for me as I stood on the ground offering no end of “helpful” advice.

Up went the parrot box. With just a slight delay when it was confirmed that the angle of the tree and the positioning of the branches wasn’t going to result in a perfect fit. After a bit of my helpful advice, Frank attached a bungy cord to the bottom of the parrot box to help hold it in place. Drilling holes in the side of the box while standing on the top of the ladder (to attach screws that the bungy cord could hook to) only added to the excitement of the day.

And then came the sugar glider box. 

After a one year delay, we have two beautiful nest boxes in our 2 beautiful trees. We can watch birds come and go (when they do) from the parrot box which is straight out our back windows, but turned so we can’t see into the hole (just the way the tree grew). To see the sugar glider box we have to trek down to the chook run and look up. I’m optimistic something will find the parrot box but that sugar glider box is a bit specific for me to place too high of hopes on it being used. Still, I now watch and wait….

Parrot nest box in the gum tree

Sugar glider nest box in the pittostrum


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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12 Responses to Possum & Parrot Nest Boxes

  1. gsrittenhouse says:

    That sure is a tall ladder. Keep us posted on the progress. I hope the sugar glider and parrot know that they are supposed to use their new homes 🙂

  2. That is a tall ladder and I don’t much like climbing to the top. We bought one especially long because our house is 2 storeys at the back. It’s become the neighbourhood ladder because we all are 1 storey at front and 2 at the back because of the sloping land and, honestly, one tall ladder per street is plenty!

    Your hope is the same as ours. I get that by making the hole the right size you stop larger animals from nesting in the boxes (like cockatoos or bush tail possums) but does it follow that the smaller animals do? The boxes have been up for about 16 hours and no sign of life yet!

  3. Oh they look lovely and sturdy – just blend right in. These are not going to attract animals that eat your veggies are they? I know you have had trouble before, but think that was a much larger possum eating your veggies. I never realized you had such large trees – your chook pen also looks perfect there.

    • I can’t imagine it’s possible for more veggie eating animals to come into my garden. There is no hope to keep them out. My new approach is to fence off my veggies. I want to avoid netting if I can so I know I’m tempting fate with the birds, but one nest box isn’t going to make much of a difference.

      Yes, I have some large trees – they shade half of my garden pretty much all day and all year which makes growing food problematic. But they are so pretty!

      The chook pen sits nicely in it’s quadrant of my garden and the chooks are really happy. I wonder how they’ll like it if a family of parrots moves in so near? I think they’ll be fine with it. They no longer run into their coop every time a cockatoo flies overhead. They seem to have caught on that not everything that flies and squawks eats chickens!

  4. nestboxer says:

    Looks like a well planned project with some great shots. Looking at the pictures, it appears that you have painted the inside of the boxes? This is actually not advised as it can be harmful to the inhabiting animal.

    • I know I shouldn’t have painted the inside but the workshop I attended provided the wood and it was pre-painted on all surfaces. I wasn’t sure what kind of paint it was and I decided painting it over with an acrylic based paint wouldn’t make it worse and maybe better than an oil based paint (if that was what was used for the primer). If I make another nest box from scratch, I will avoid painting the inside.

      Thanks for the reminder so if anyone reads this post and gets inspired to make their own nest box, they hopefully will leave the inside “raw”.

      Of course they can always buy one from you guys – I’ve been to your website http://nestingboxes.com.au/ and your boxes look really good. I like that you source your materials from renewable resources.

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