Perceptions of what kind of vegetation attracts bird species are interesting, along with questions about the effect of changes. If the ANBG site before its development resembled the rest of Black Mountain there would have been no double-bars there. Perhaps the height of the site’s attraction to finches was just after the lawn seed was laid down. Flocks of red-brows, perhaps of 20 or so, still feed on the seeding lawns, and build nests nearby. I remember the large flocks of Grey-headed Mannikins that were common on the infrequently mown, perhaps roughly sarifed, lawns around Port Moresby. “What are those little birds that look like rain?”, people would ask. Probably no lawns now, or finches - maybe at the golf course.
From: Denis Wilson [
Sent: Saturday, 14 July 2012 9:46 AM
To: boy nature
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] FW: Double-barred Finches
Benj makes a good point about the finches and native vegetation.
My father banded many Double-bars in the "Canberra Botanic Gardens", in the pre-opening era - prior to its renaming as ANBG.
In those days, of early development of the Gardens, there were large open areas between the main plantings of shrubs.
They were set out in botanical families (still are, largely). So there were rows of Proteaceae (eg, Hakeas, and Grevilleas)
and then Myrtaceae (e.g. Callistemons, Melaleucas, etc).
In between these rows were large areas of native grasses (or "wild grasses").
These grasses were allowed to thrive and seed. The grasses grew to about 18 inches high (in the old money).
Consequently the finches of Canberra thrived there.
Red-brows and Double-bars mostly.
They then bred in the dense shrubbery offered by the flanking plantings, but the spiky Hakeas in particular were very popular nest sites.
Of course, in the early years of the ANBG, a decision was made to replace the "wild grassed areas" with cultivated turf, which is kept mowed,
(to the advantage of little children, Wood Ducks and Choughs).
The Finch population of the ANBG plummeted thereafter.
An ancient perspective on finches in Canberra.
"The Nature of Robertson"