Prof. Harry Recher on the decline of Australia's small birds

Subject: Prof. Harry Recher on the decline of Australia's small birds
From: Penny Brockman <>
Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2011 14:49:28 +1100
I think it's a bit unfair to label Harry Recher careless as it does depend on where you live in Sydney

 I lived in Wilson St, Newton from 1984 to 2003. When I first arrived I had SFWs in my tiny back yard and saw them regularly in waste patches along the railway line.  However, removal of trees in the backyards on Wilson Lane led to the loss of the wrens in my yard. Another factor that led to their decline was Sydney University's policy of clearing out shrubbery on the campus, because of the possibility of robbery and rape. This led to a decline of the wrens there although not extinction, and the large numbers of Pied Currawongs that took up year round residence in the late 80s, were very partial to nestlings.

These factors would no doubt apply to many inner city suburbs.  Tidy garden and backyards lead to the demise of small birds.

On Fri, Mar 18, 2011 at 9:58 AM, Andrew Taylor <> wrote:
On Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 06:46:56PM +0930, Chris Watson wrote:

I expect Harry Recher is right about most of what he says but he can be
careless about facts.   In the video he suggests that Superb Fairy Wren
have gone from abundant to rare in Sydney over the last 40 years - saying
it was the second bird he saw stepping off the ship in Sydney  but you'd
to struggle find one now in the suburbs of Sydney.   This is incorrect,
wrens are still conspicuous in many Sydney suburbs and surveys show this:
I'm not sure where in Sydney Harry Recher's ship arrived, but you can
still see wrens at King St Wharf where the cruise ships  dock in the CBD.

Its hard to say how SFW abundance has changed in Sydney suburbia in
the period Harry Recher is talking about without data like the Backyard
Bird survey for past decades.  Ricki Coughlan posted here details a few
years ago of a wren survey on the Northern Beaches where I recall SFW
were absent or very scarce in quite a few suburbs, but SFW do seem to
do well in the denser inner suburbs.

I've noticed this carelessness before.  Years ago Harry Recher put in
a paper: "Red Wattlebird which were abundant in suburban Sydney
gardens as recently as the 1970s are now rare".  Again not true,
over much of Sydney,  Red Wattlebirds are common & conspicuous:


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