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

Subject: Re: birding-aus Re: Native trees & foreign birds
From: Brian Fleming <>
Date: Sat, 13 Feb 1999 20:23:22 +1100

Vicki Parslow Stafford wrote:
> birding-aus
> >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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Vicki Parslow Stafford's comments are spot-on, re loss of smaller bird
species from ruthless tidying up of exotic vegetation in local parks. I
believe that one reason we still have Superb Blue Wrens about in
suburban Melbourne is that we stll have so
much blackberry everywhere!
I am glad to say that we have been able to convince our local Banyule
Council of this too. A major effort, led by Warringal Conservation
Society from 1989 on, and other bodies as well, to re-establish local
indigenous flora at Banyule Flats concentrated on establishing
understorey plants, as well as eucalypts, before the removal of
brambles, hawthorns and other nasties. This has definitely helped native
species in what was formerly an overgrazed cattle pasture. We now see
Bronzewings under the wattles, at any rate when there's any seed to pick
  I also wish to second Graham Fry on not planting hybrid Grevilleas,
which attract aggressive Wattlebirds and Noisy and Bell Miners all year
round to the detriment of the smaller birds. Try for indigenous local
flora whenever possible - it works.
  Anthea Fleming in Banyule, Melbourne
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