an observation about an artificial habitat for Hooded Robins

To: COG list <>
Subject: an observation about an artificial habitat for Hooded Robins
From: Con Boekel <>
Date: Tue, 05 Aug 2008 16:58:24 +1000
This morning Roger Curnow kindly took the time and effort to guide me to a group of 3 Hooded Robins near the NSW border, adjacent to Dunlop. It is GrN11 which contains many records in the COG Atlas data base, so I assume that it is a reasonably well-known area. Roger indicated various places he had seen the birds in the past, including where he had seen two adults with one very young dy last year, so we had a good overview of what is likely to be their territory.

I was particularly interested in the habitat. There were some small thickets of blackberry and some 'rose hip' bushes- not sure what the real name is for these bushes. There was virtually no shrub layer but there were some areas of very stunted elderly trees which were virtually shrubs. But again, not many of those. There was a lot of fallen timber and the birds were perching on the fallen timber and dropping down to the ground to feed. There were areas of longer grass (last season's dead grass stems) and very short grass. The Hooded Robins were feeding in the short grass area. (There was a brisk, cold, southerly blowing and the birds mostly perched head towards the wind). Parts of the territory has extensive areas of rock, probably some sort of granite, but I am not a geologist. A couple of Diamond Firetail Finches appeared to be associating with the Hooded Robins. There were no Noisy Miners. The territory was virtually surrounded by open paddocks, so I am not sure about dispersal and recruitment.

Some of you will be aware of a Greening Australia study of birds living in revegetated areas. As I recall, Hooded Robins did not figure significantly, if at all. Hooded Robins are one of a suite of woodland species that can broadly be defined as in some sort of trouble, so the impact of revegetation on their numbers is a significant issue. Again, if I recall correctly, the birds found in revegetated areas were mostly the more common woodland and open grassland species. This leads to the question: 'How can these plantings be improved to target the rarer woodland species that are in trouble?'

The promising thing about the Dunlop site is that most of the trees in the territory appear to have been planted. A lot of the planted trees have died and fallen over, or have shed branches, providing the fallen timber. This would mean that it is possible to replace Hooded Robin habitat that has been previously been destroyed by clearing. If so, the site would also be worth a closer study in terms of designing plantings for revegetation.

I am aware that this is a fairly speculative view based on a sample of one group of Hooded Robins, and I would welcome comments, observations and critiques.


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