Artificial nests airlifted to boost shy albatross breeding on Tasmanian island

Artificial nests airlifted to boost shy albatross breeding on Tasmanian island

Artificial nests airlifted to boost shy albatross breeding on Tasmanian island

Updated 8 October 2017, 18:20 AEDT

The shy albatross is listed as a vulnerable species, with warming climate blamed for undermining their nests, but Tasmanian scientists have come up with a creative solution proving popular with the birds.

Artificial nests have been airlifted to a remote island in Bass Strait to help a threatened bird species.

The shy albatross only nests on three islands off the coast of Tasmania and its breeding rates have been decreasing in recent years.

Researchers believe climate change is to blame.

"Out on Albatross Island the weather is getting warmer and it's getting wetter and that makes it hard for the integrity of the albatross nest to stay together," Darren Grover from WWF Australia said.

To help the birds overcome the new problems, 120 artificial nests have been delivered by helicopter.

Rachael Alderman, a Wildlife Biologist with the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, has been studying the birds for more than a decade.

"We know that a high quality nest is more likely to produce an albatross chick so we're trialling these artificial nests as a way of giving the population a boost in the hope that that will offset the effects of climate change," she said.

The project is being supported by the Tasmanian and Australian Governments, WWF Australia, CSIRO Marine Climate Impact and the Tasmanian Albatross Fund.

The shy albatross has been identified by the Australian Government as an important species in need of action to assist its survival.

The bird is listed as vulnerable, but there are about 15,000 breeding pairs.

Mr Grover said it was important action was taken immediately.

"If we were to leave it to the last moment when numbers were in serious decline, you may only get one shot at it and if it doesn't work that time then you might be in real trouble," he said.

The majority of nests are now being used

The nests, which are made of materials like concrete and rammed earth, have so far been popular with the birds.

The breeding season has just started but early monitoring showed the nests were being adopted by the birds.

"The birds have responded really well, they've taken to the nests like they were their own, they've laid eggs in the nests and now it's up to us to monitor them through the rest of the season," Dr Alderman said.

The breeding season will continue until March.

If the nests prove to be successful more will be introduced.