Artificial nests a breeding success story for vulnerable Tasmanian shy albatross

Artificial nests a breeding success story for vulnerable Tasmanian shy albatross

Artificial nests a breeding success story for vulnerable Tasmanian shy albatross

Updated 8 February 2018, 19:40 AEDT

Nests made of mud and concrete boost the number of chicks hatching on a remote Bass Strait island.

Artificial mud and concrete nests are proving a possible saviour for vulnerable Tasmanian shy albatross on a remote island in Bass Strait.

Over 100 specially built artificial nests were airlifted onto Albatross Island off the island state's north-west in July 2017.

And since there has been a jump in the number of albatross chicks hatched in the new nests.

They are part of an innovative plan to help the species that is currently listed as vulnerable under the Threatened Species Protection Act.

The artificial nests were placed in areas where the naturally occurring nests were typically of lower quality.

Recent monitoring of the trial program revealed the birds were accepting the nests and personalising them with mud and vegetation.

Tasmanian parks department wildlife officer Rachael Alderman said birds struggle to find and keep sufficient nesting material resulting in a poor-quality nest.

"Monitoring has shown that birds with inferior nests are less likely to successfully raise a chick," she said.

"Shy albatross lay a single egg in late September and those eggs have now hatched.

"At this stage in the trial, the breeding success of pairs on artificial nests is 20 per cent higher than those on natural nests.

"There are many more months ahead for all the chicks, and a lot can change, but so far it's very promising."

Dr Alderman has been studying the giant birds since 2003.

Birds facing multiple threats

Climate change, plastic ingestion, habitat loss and feral animals are all threats to the birds.

Shy albatross are endemic to Australia and only nest on three islands off the coast of Tasmania — Albatross Island, Pedra Branca and Mewstone.

Darren Grover from the World Wide Fund for Nature, who visited the site with Dr Alderman in December, said the benefits of the pre-constructed nests were evident.

"Albatross Island gets hit with wild weather. Good quality nests keep eggs and chicks safe and sound," Mr Grover said.

"The artificial nests were all intact but many of the natural nests were already starting to deteriorate.

"That's not the best start to life for a chick."

New threatened species commissioner Dr Sally Box said the project was a wonderful example of an effective conservation partnership that can serve as a model for future wildlife recovery efforts.

"It's fantastic to see this project come to fruition. We all have a role to play in protecting our threatened species," Dr Box said.