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In photos:

In Photos: Aussie animal architects

02 Apr 2020

Keywords

  • wombats
  • albatross
  • birds

Animals are capable of building impressive homes that are both interesting and practical. In fact, humans have been copying animal architecture for many centuries.

There are lots of reasons why animals design their homes the way they do. Some build their structure for housing purposes, some for protection, some for accommodating small families and huge extended families and then others do so to attract a mate.

This gallery features some of nature’s most awe-inspiring architects. 

SATIN BOWERBIRD BOWER - EASTERN AUSTRALIA 

Satin bowerbird, Lamington National Park, Qld © Staffan Widstrand / WWF 

A male bowerbird creates its nest by weaving twigs together to produce a bower. It then decorates the structure with colourful objects. The bower you see here has gathered blue-coloured plastics to enhance its bower to entice a female mate. 

 

MAGNETIC TERMITE MOUNDS - NORTHERN TERRITORY

Magnetic termite mounds © Martin Harvey / WWF 

In this image, the mounds are all united - facing the same direction. The reason for this is that when termites build their homes they align them to the Earth’s magnetic field. The result is a structure fixed in a north to south direction. It’s said this is done to strategically climate-control their homes. So, if you’re ever lost in the wild and stumble upon one of these, it can point you in the right direction! 

PAPER WASPS NEST - AUSTRALIA-WIDE

Paper wasp nest © Pixabay
This wasp swarm is working insync to create their dream home. Wasp nests look a lot like a honeycomb, but are made of a different material. Rather than being produced from wax, they’re created using a paper-like substance - which is where their name is derived. The wasps produce the substance by chewing wood into a pulp and sticking it all together.

 

WOMBAT BURROW - NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC

A wombat in its burrow © Martin Harvey / WWF
Wombats are excellent diggers. Their burrows are wide enough to pass through and vary in length. The largest burrow found by researchers at Epping Forest National Park in Queensland contained more than 90 metres of tunnels and six entrances! You wouldn’t want to have claustrophobia and be stuck inside here. During the recent summer bushfires, social media was buzzing over the claim that wombats were herding other animals to shelter in their burrows. The truth behind this: it is common for a wombat to abandon its burrow to dig a new one, leaving behind a source of shelter for other creatures to use. So, unintentionally, wombat’s homes became a safe haven. 

 

GOLDEN SILK ORB WEAVER SPIDER WEB - AUSTRALIA-WIDE

Golden silk orb weaver spider © Pixabay
The golden orb weaver spider gets its name from the colour of its web - a golden-yellow hue. This is thought to be advantageous for attracting flying insects. Like the other animal homes in this gallery, the golden orb weaver’s web unifies species. This critter shares it’s home with small kleptoparasitic spiders that feed on the smaller insects who get stuck to the web. The orb-weaver is untroubled by this as it is a selective eater. Meaning it avoids feeding on certain insects. 


SHY ALBATROSS ARTIFICIAL NEST - OFF THE COAST OF TASMANIA

The shy albatross makes its nest from mud, vegetation and rocks. However, insufficient nest-building material on the few islands the albatross breed poses a problem. Shy albatross return to the same place to mate and nest every year and will lay one single egg, which they watch over and nurture. Sadly, increased air temperature and rainfall on the island during the incubation and chick rearing period mean fewer are surviving to adulthood - putting future populations at risk. To protect the species, WWF-Australia has collaborated with the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE), Tasmanian Albatross Fund, and the CSIRO to install artificial nests in an effort to increase the number of surviving chicks.


In this time we should look to nature as a source of inspiration and joy. Just as animals do, we can come together to support each other. From this crisis, we will emerge stronger and better able to tackle global challenges, from COVID-19 to the global climate and nature crises. Amazing things can come from banding together.

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A close up of green turtle (Chelonia mydas) © Shutterstock / Rich Carey / WWF-Sweden

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