Back Yard Birds

Subject: Back Yard Birds
From: Laurie & Leanne Knight <>
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 17:57:06 +1000
Item in one of today's papers

Mynah dramas in city yards
     The Daily Telegraph, Edition 1 - State
FRI 19 OCT 2001, Page 011
         By: SIMON BENSON


THE ``leafy'' trees long associated with Sydney's north shore have left
its suburbs overrun by avian pests while the west has become the haven
for small native birds, a study has revealed.

 And the rise of the notorious feral indian mynah bird has reached a
peak, with figures showing it has now invaded 80 per cent of backyards
across Sydney.

 A 12-month study by the Australian Museum and University of Wollongong
has found that the large lawns and trees of the northern suburbs of
Sydney are favouring pest birds and large carnivores to the detriment of
most smaller native species.

 Another discovery was that the native noisy miner, an aggressive bird
which eats insects, had become as prolific as its introduced cousin and
may be just as responsible for the decline of other native birds.

 The noisy miner is found in 89 per cent of gardens in the northern
suburbs whilst it is found in less than 70 per cent of gardens in the

 And small native insect-eating birds such as the superb fairy wren are
found in 5 per cent of north shore backyards and more than 40 per cent
of western Sydney homes.

 The team, headed by research scientist Richard Major, is now looking to
survey homes around greater Sydney to look for the model backyard which
could be used to encourage smaller native birds back to the suburbs.

 ``I suppose we suspected the indian mynah to be so common,'' said Dr
 ``But one that is becoming more significant is the noisy miner which is
now very common as well ... and it is a native Australian bird.

 ``The indian mynah was the most commonly seen bird. I guess it is
depressing but the comforting thing was it was not negatively associated
with the smaller birds.
 ``The one that did have an impact on the smaller birds was the native
noisy miner.
 ``We think of the `leafy' north shore but it did not do so well. It had
the highest number of noisy miners and large currawongs.
 ``Noisy miners are a species that do well in fragmented habitat such as
in agricultural areas and in cities.
 ``They are a very aggressive bird and are communal breeders that chase
out the similar sized insectivores.''

 Dr Major said the pest birds were more common in gardens with less than
25 per cent  shrubs. ``What we think the thing people could do is
thicken up their gardens with native shrubs,''  he said.

 People often get the native noisy miner confused with the introduced
indian mynah -- both share yellow beaks and are the same size but the
noisy miner is grey as opposed to
 dark brown for the indian mynah.

``It seems the large carnivores and miners are doing well. The ones we
are losing are the small insectivores,'' said Dr Major.
 ``We all hate the indian mynah,'' he added.
 ``We tend to blame it but not notice so much that our native birds can
become pests when we change our habitats. ``What we are trying to find
out now is what birds are breeding and where and what gardens are


 Garden rescue plan
 Smaller bushier native shrubs should be planted to attract the smaller
insectivore birds such as honeyeaters to gardens.
 The shrubs to plant are:
 Tea trees (for nesting)
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