birding-aus Sparrows and others

To: Russell <>
Subject: birding-aus Sparrows and others
From: Penny Drake-Brockman <>
Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 14:57:38 +1100
Hello all

Re: John Gamblin and Anthea's piece on these easy to hate birds, the
problem is not so much the birds but the habitat. If you cut down all the
trees, mow the grass, plant exotics you will get exotic birds and
particular those that have over hundreds of years learnt to live with our
way of life.  I work at the Australian Techonology Park, Redfern, Sydney,
NSW (for those non-NSW people), and the majority of birds out the door are
those three plus feral pigeons. Planting around the building is London
Plains and false acacias with a few gums struggling to survive in an
architect's dream landscape. There are heaps of super spots in the old
locomotive shop roof for these four species to nest safely, and lots of
food scraps as well as fenced off development sites with weeds and grass
growing rankly, and always water somewhere close. Down the bottom of the
park there are a few shrubs - gravillea, callistermon and wattle - which
attract the odd Red Wattlebird, New Holland Honeyeater, BFCS, Silvereye,
even a Figbird and Willie Wagtail, but it's far too tidy and mown except as
a passing-through eating post when something's in flower.

I note the mention again of Hawaii and the blame for the demise of its
birds put on avian malaria. However, I suspect that avian malaria would not
have had such a devastating effect if the Americans hadn't made such a
thoroughly good job of destroying the native vegetation wherever the land
was flat enough to farm - hungry birds are much more susceptible to disease
than well fed birds - mile after mile of pineapple plantations and grazing
land provide no nectar for the many honeycreepers reliant on the endemic
trees and shrubs so efficiently cleared to provide profits for the
Americans who annexed the island, and have now turned it into a hideous
tourist resort as well as a market garden. In the few patches of native
forest left on the lower levels, you do find some native birds. Will these
survivors in time develop resistance to maleria and increase in numbers or
are they also doomed?

It's like complaining there are no "nice" birds in your backyard, when you
have a stretch of mown grass and a swimming pool. We all need to do
something about it - influence our friends, write to councils, complain to
authority, and it's hard to find the time and energy to keep it all up and
also enjoy going out to actually see the little critters.

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