Nest box provision for stripe-breasted tit Parus fasciiventer in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Ruhija, Uganda
Perrins C. (1997) Stripe-breasted tits use nest boxes. African Bird Club Bulletin, 4, 67-68
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda, supports 24 of 37 restricted-range bird species of the Albertine Rift Mountains Endemic Bird Area (EBA), the stripe-breasted tit Parus fasciiventer is one of these. Around the Ruhija section of the forest where the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITCF) is based, it is a common but despite tis its ecology was poorly known. In order to try and find out more about this species it was decided to erect some nest boxes around the ITFC station.
Study area: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, (famous for its population of mountain gorillas Gorilla gorilla beringei) is situated in southwestern Uganda.
Nest boxes: In 1995 a number of nest boxes were positioned in trees within 500 m of the ITFC station at Ruhija. At this time, as far as was known, no passerine birds had been recorded using nest boxes in Africa. Boxes followed a fairly typical tit nest box design and were constructed of local hard wood. They were about 30 cm deep with an entrance hole diameter of 25-30 mm, with a hinged sloping roof and a small perch below the hole. The boxes were attached to trees at a height of three to 10 m using locally made ropes. When in place the boxes appeared relatively inconspicuous.
Nest box use: In March and April 1996, at least two (possibly three) of the boxes were used by stripe-breasted tits for nesting. One and two young were hatched in each but it is unknown if they fledged successfully. It was unsure how much human disturbance the tits would tolerate and so nest inspections were not undertaken during the period when the adults were bringing food to the chicks. However, one of the boxes used was in a tree only about 5 m from one of the ITFC buildings and in full view of frequent passersby, suggesting that they would probably be little affected by observers positioned fairly close to a nest box.
In 1997 no boxes were used by the tits. The boxes proved attractive to arboreal rats and squirrels and nearly half of the nest box holes had been enlarged despite the boxes being constructed of tough hardwood. Several boxes also needed repairs. These preliminary results suggest that stripe-breasted tits will use nest boxes but that boxes may have to be replaced and/or repaired on an almost annual basis.
Further work has subsequently been undertaken (Yathua J. (2004) The breeding ecology of the stripe-breasted tit in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, South Western Uganda. Makerere University MSc thesis).
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