wildfire and birds

To: "'Michael Todd'" <>, <>
Subject: wildfire and birds
From: "Stephen Ambrose" <>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2013 09:51:07 +1100
Hello Mick,

Sorry to hear about your local wildfire, but glad that your house and family
are okay.

The late Pauline Reilly published the following paper on the recovery of
local bird populations following a wildlife near Anglesea in coastal

The Effect of Wildfire on Bird Populations in a Victorian Coastal Habitat

P Reilly 

Emu 91(2) 100 - 106 


In an area severely burned by wildfire on 16 February 1983, a study, which
had begun before the fire in spring 1982, was continued to determine
recolonisation by birds. The study continued until spring 1988. Bird species
were affected in different ways. Three patterns were apparent: no noticeable
change; an initial decline followed by recovery after one or more years; and
an increase following fire with a decrease coincident with plant
regeneration. Of the 73 bird species recorded, 60% were present by the end
of the first spring and 86% had been recorded by two years post-fire, which
included all those present in the spring before the blaze. Population
numbers took longer to recover. No control areas were available. The source
of recolonisation was not evident. The danger of fire is most acute for
birds restricted in habitat and distribution, such as the Rufous Bristlebird
Dasyornis broadbenti.

Stephen Ambrose
Ryde NSW

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Michael Todd
Sent: Wednesday, 13 February 2013 9:01 AM
Subject: wildfire and birds

Hello all,

Last Wednesday our property of seven hectares was blasted by a
wildfire along with many others in the Molesworth area. Today has been
the first day that we haven't had helicopters flying over head,
towards where the fire still burns. Amazingly, and through
considerable effort from the fire services, no buildings were lost.
The only area left unburnt on our place was our actual house and shed.
Our "fire retardant" plants burned along with everything else! The
heat was so great that we had melting on one side of our house (vinyl
cladding). House OK, family OK, we were very lucky.

The native garden which was coming along nicely (4 years old) is now a
bit of a mess. We've been back in the house for a few days and the
animals are gradually coming back. Grey Currawongs were around as soon
as we got back home. Superb Fairy-wrens seemed to have survived- they
have been focusing on the dams. Brown Thornbills were missing for a
couple of days but they were around again yesterday. Tas Native-hens
have survived in the same numbers as before the fire. They seem to be
struggling to find food though as they are hanging around the house
for any scraps that they can get. Tasmanian Pademelons are still
around including a couple that have moved into the shed to sleep
during the day. No sign of our bettongs yet, or any brushtail possums
which were especially numerous before the fire.

It will be interesting to watch our bush (about 4 hectares) recover. I
was wondering whether any one else out there has any stories of bush
recovery (along with its birds) that they could share. I'd love to
hear from anyone that has resurrected a native garden after fire.


Michael Todd,  PhD
Molesworth, Tasmania

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