A recent field trip has inspired a group of senior primary school students to build nesting boxes for native birds.
The project, part of the Primary Technical Schools Program, reached a major milestone when pupils handed over 16 nest boxes to Wimmera Catchment Management Authority.
The boxes, specifically designed for the colourful tiny Striated Pardalote, were constructed while students explored jobs in the building and construction industry.
The project brings together a number of community groups that will see nest boxes scattered along the Wimmera River and installed in fire-ravaged areas of the Grampians National Park.
WorkCo business development officer Fiona Carine said the nest box project was made possible with support from Wimmera CMA and AXIS Worx.
"Wimmera CMA suggested a couple of nesting box options and provided the specifications. A nesting box for Pardalotes was chosen," she said.
"AXIS Worx carpentry workshop prepared the boxes as flat-packs, ready to assemble with a screwdriver. The pupils assembled the boxes at AXIS Worx under the supervision of carpenter Daryl Minne, to give them the added experience of working in a carpentry workshop."
Ms Carine said pupils involved in the technical schools program, which started in 2010, always enjoyed the hands-on activities associated with the program.
"They get a lot of personal satisfaction developing new skills and seeing projects through to completion. A critical part of this program is being hands on. Earlier this year, the pupils were in the Horsham Police Paddock examining the environment in a number of ways, and this term they have been learning from a carpenter in a real workshop. This project has so many layers and learnings and has been a great success of which we are all really proud."
Wimmera CMA will show the students how to install the boxes.
"This is a fantastic project and everyone is very excited to be involved," Wimmera CMA project manager Rae Talbot said.
"It is wonderful to see the kids be so inspired and then have the opportunity to build these nest boxes for a dedicated purpose."
Rae said boxes would be installed in fire-burnt areas in Grampians National Park.
"It's so important to have these boxes, particularly in areas affected by fire where the trees, shrubs, eucalypt forests and woodlands are gone," she said.
During breeding season, Striated Pardalotes form pairs or small groups of up to six birds. The nest is constructed close to the ground, usually in a tree hollow or tunnel, excavated in an earthen bank; small openings in human-made objects are frequently used.
The birds display regularly at the entrance to the nesting chamber, and vigorously guard the vicinity against other pardalotes. Both sexes incubate and care for the young birds. Other members of the group may also help with the feeding of the young.