birding-aus Re:Exotic Plants and native birds

To: Penny Drake-Brockman <>
Subject: birding-aus Re:Exotic Plants and native birds
From: Brian Fleming <>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 1999 20:40:54 +1000
Penny Drake-Brockman wrote:
> Dear all
> Being an ex-pom, I can't let this slip although I don't have the
> science to reply in detail. Elms in the UK are far from extinct. The fungal
> infection carried by the beetles kills the mature trees above ground but does
> not kill the roots. When I was back in England for a year in 1990/91,
> suckers that had sprouted from the roots of the dead mature elms were up to 7
> metres high, fast becoming good trees in their own right (the mature
> trees were all killed around the mid 70s)[snip]
.By the way, Superb Parrots adore the seeds of Chinese elms but I've
> yet to see any of native birds feeding in the European elm.  The Rainbow
> Lorikeets in Sydney eat the seeds of Liquid Amber but many introduced trees
> appear to have little to offer, particularly in the way of nectar - except 
> coral
> trees which the councils are busily eradicating.
> Bye for now, Penny
> Dear Penny, 
  I am very glad to hear that Elms are in fact regenerating in Europe.
However I believe that an introduced European disease did in fact
eliminate native American chestnut trees. 
  I am personally very interested in the use local birds make of exotic
plants. The nectar feeders seem to try anything - I once wrote up
Silvereyes taking advantage of a Mock Orange (Philadelphus sp.)in the
'Bird Observer' and our Eastern Spinebill spends a lot of time in the
Pineapple Sage, the
oldfashioned smallflowered Fuchsia, and the Tecomopsis in our drive, as
well as in the Banksia and the Protea out front. 
  Galahs love liquidambar seeds, and almonds, and I've seen a Bronzewing
investigating fallen elmseed in a farmyard, but don't know if he found
it worth eating. 
  I am fully in favour of native plants for native birds but I am not
convinced about planting larger eucalypts in inner city streets. 
  It might however be interesting to compile a small thread of
information of what exotics are of food value to native birds. I am
always very glad to see Silvereyes at work on my aphid-ridden Roses and
they do a good job too. And young Blackfaced CuckooShrikes used to eat a
lot of mulberries, before a neighbour removed the mighty Red Gum where
they bred because it was 'such a dirty tree and so ugly!' I'd rather
lose the huge soilrobbing Cypress whose nuts attract various cockatoos..
   Anthea Fleming in Melbourne
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