Small birds take flight?

To: "Philip Veerman" <>, <>, "Michael Hunter" <>
Subject: Small birds take flight?
From: "Bruce Cox" <>
Date: Sat, 10 Sep 2005 11:20:01 +1000
Subject: [BIRDING-AUS] Small birds take flight?
Gday Birding-aussers.
I find this topic quite interesting, Around my way (Sydney's Northern Beaches) there is no shortage of S F-w's despite urbanisation. My local observations indicate S F-w's like feeding in fringe areas. Providing there is dense cover to retreat to they will happily feed on lawns, playing fields, mud, floating weed, road verges etc. I have seen them utilising 4 of the above 5 at Warriewood Wetland. We have created habitats they like.
On the other hand around my way Variagated Fairy-wrens seldom feed out of cover. At Warriewood Wetland they feed in rank grass and reeds, sometimes up into the Swamp Mahoganies but never into the upper foliage where I have seen Superbs. I was amazed the first time I saw movement in the top of a mahogany, put my bins on it and saw a S F-w. There was a whole family up there.
Bruce Cox.

Where is the actual numerical evidence from continuous, long-running bird population surveys, with a consistent survey method, that Superb Fairy-wrens and various other species are declining in urban areas? I searched for such evidence of surveys when I prepared the report on COG's GBS. The Atlases report on recording rate but that is of limited use and there is a big gap in years between the two and two different data collection method sets. There are various other limited bits of publications but nothing continuous over a whole bird community over many years in Australia. The only reference I know is the full analysis of Canberra Ornithologists Group's (COG) Garden Bird Survey (GBS). This is in my 130 page book "Canberra Birds: A Report on the first 21 years of the Garden Bird Survey" (and the earlier 18 year edition). This describes population trends of all our birds by month and year from July 1981 to June 2002 and is also intended as a fitting tribute to all those who have contributed to the survey over that time. Sure Canberra is only one small area and may be a special case but at least we have data. Another reason for publishing the book was to promote the GBS method to other bird groups around Australia and beyond. It is also a fun survey.
For what is it worth, it documents the steady and dramatic increase in abundance of the Superb Fairy-wren and White-browed Scrubwren and various other species over that time. For those two species it is surely the increase in available habitat that has helped them. Of course others have declined and others are stable or fluctuating.
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