Re: birding-aus Re: Native trees & foreign birds

To: <>
Subject: Re: birding-aus Re: Native trees & foreign birds
From: "Vicki Parslow Stafford" <>
Date: Sat, 13 Feb 1999 00:50:10 -0500

>From a scientific point of view, I don't know if planting natives is the
best way to  reduce exotic bird numbers.  However, from my own experience I
would say that sometimes the opposite can be true.

In urban or semi-urban areas such as my own, exotic flora, whether
deliberately planted or feral, can sometimes take an essential place in
providing a habitat for native fauna species.  For example, I live opposite
a so-called Environmental Park.  In reality, this is a degraded area of
regenerating eucalypt forest.  Across the road (designated as a major
feeder road) is a former dump site near a creek.  This reclaimed area is
designated for park and recreational purposes.  Both of these areas have
benefitted (?) from federal job-creation funding.

When we first lived here, the immediate area was alive with small
passerines.  I have observed an Oriental cuckoo, satin flycatcher and
cicadabird in my yard, as well as the regular presence (in season) of a
host of honeyeaters, flycatchers, gerygones, thornbills, parrots,
kingfishers, bee-eaters and other seasonal migrants.  All three of the
endemic fairy-wrens (superb, variegated and red-back) were present.  I saw
rufous fantails in the gully, and across the road behind the BMX track, in
an area that the council obviously regarded as wasteland, I saw nutmeg
finches (yes, OK, exotics), chestnut-breasted manakins, double-barred
finches, red-browed firetails and plum-headed finches.  Since the council
has decided to keep this area slashed and mown, I see only double-bars, and
those in reduced numbers. 

Similarly, once the Council started to use Commonwealth money to "improve"
the Environmental Park, we've acquired lots of paved paths, plantings of
native trees and shrubs etc.  However, the removal of lantana, Chinese elm
and other feral flora has meant that former habitats have disappeared, with
nothing to take their place.  With the removal of these "feral" plants, our
regular avifauna has been much reduced.

Both regular migrant/nomadic species and year-round residents are
accustomed to the exotic flora of the area.  As most subscribers in SE Qld
would be aware, a host of native birds appreciate the much-maligned Chinese
Elm -- for its berries, the haven it provides for insects etc.  Over the
past 2 - 4 years, most of the birds of passage and other seasonal visitors
to my yard have been observed in the Chinese elm.

What it comes down to for me is that, although I live in a semi-urban area,
introduced avifauna are not a problem.  What IS a problem is
well-intentioned attempts to restore/reclaim degraded areas, with
insufficient thought given to replacement of successful exotic habitats
with cosmetically attractive native equivalents.  Too few designers, town
planners etc give thought to the fact that an overgrowth of lantana on a
creek bank is a home to more species than a landscaped bank of prostrate
grevilleas will ever be. 

Vicki PS
Vicki Parslow Stafford                 |  "Even if you can't live up
(Procrastination While U Wait)    |   to your destiny, you can
                         |   at least have one".
Ipswich, Qld.  Australia    

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