birding-aus Native trees & foreign birds

Subject: birding-aus Native trees & foreign birds
From: (Syd Curtis)
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 06:56:07 +1000

Nigel Sterpin, 11 Feb, 99, asked -

"Would people agree that, generally speaking, the best way to reduce
introduced bird numbers is to plant more native trees and replace exotics?"

A possible small piece of evidence in support.  When we came to live here
in Hawthorne (a Brisbane, Qld. suburb) our tiny 16 perch allotment (c. 400
square metres?) had no native trees, but lots of sparrows.  Now three
native trees, a Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis), a Water Gum
(Tristaniopsis laurina) and a Brown Pine (Podocarpus elatus) all 30 years
plus old, dominate our garden.  We  have no sparrows, but various native
passerines stop a few hours or a few days on their way through town.

Grey Fantail; Rufous Fantail
Golden Whistler; Rufous Whistler
Black-faced Flycatcher; Satin Flycatcher (Monarchs, I suppose I should say)
Horsefield Bronze Cuckoo
Spangled Drongo
Brown Honeyeater; Scarlet Honeyeater

Usually my attention is drawn to the presence of a Drongo by mimicry of
Pied Butcherbird - good enough to recognise; bad enough to know it's not a
real butcherbird.  The melodious voices of butcherbirds (and magpies) grace
the area but only rarely visit us.  But Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes often
call to glean a few insects.  I find their soft call in the Podocarpus
outside my study window entrancing.

Some 35 years ago, a flying-fox 'planted' (dropped the seed of) an exotic
palm at the bottom of our garden.  We left it and it is now the tallest
tree here-abouts, and is much favoured by the local crows, both for its
commanding view and as a source of fibre, I assume to line nests.
Fortunately we like their remarkably varied corvid calls.  (There are those
who find them worse than the proverbial dripping tap.)

The usual suite of local urban species call from time to time but the
nearest we have to a resident species - in keeping with our minute garden -
is the little Silvereye, though I have to admit they nested in an exotic -
the Cardinal Creeper (Ipomoea horsfalliae).

Also when we came here snails and slugs were a problem in our attempts to
establish a garden.  Now we have blue-tongued lizards ... and not a single
snail or slug!

I guess I haven't helped very much.  But it is abundantly clear that we
must have native plants to have native birds.  And maybe it does help to
give them an edge on at least some avain exotics if we plant more native
trees.  I look forward to reading more informed responses to Nigel's query.

Syd Curtis

H Syd Curtis

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