Judging a box by its cover

Wed, 14 Feb 2018

Natalie Briscoe and colleagues were part of a team that has been investigating whether we can improve the functional performance of nest boxes. They wondered what difference surface reflectance would have on the temperature inside nest boxes if the outsides of the boxes were painted in different colours.

The team tested three different coloured nest boxes (white, light-green, and dark-green) to see if the colour of the nest boxes had an effect on the internal temperature they maintain.

Their study found that light coloured boxes were the best at reflecting heat during summer and dark coloured boxes asborbed heat well in winter. Other factors including box design, placement, and the amount of shade boxes received also influenced the internal temperature of the nest boxes.

These conclusions have important implications for the use of nest boxes as a conservation tool. Conservation managers considering the implementation of nest boxes programs need to give careful consideration to design, colour, placement and shade profile of nest boxes.

For further information:
Natalie Briscoe
nbriscoe@unimelb.edu.au

Top image: Whose house is cooler? Turns out it’s the light green nest boxes on the tree on the right (in this case, boxes for bats). Which probably means light green is better in the summer but the warmer dark green boxes might be more suitable in winter. Photo: Steve Griffiths 

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