Tree Ferns

To: Brian Fleming <>
Subject: Tree Ferns
From: Merrilyn Serong <>
Date: Wed, 04 Jun 2003 01:02:54 +1000
Hi all
Sori, spores and frond pith from tree ferns are included in a list of dietary items of the Crimson Rosella in a paper by
Magrath and Lill (1983) entitled The use of time and energy by the CR in a temperate wet forest in winter. Australian Journal of Zoology 31: 903-12.

Brian Fleming wrote:
iandowling wrote:
Hi out there in birdland
Our Tree Ferns are being destroyed by Crimson Rosellas. They nibble
the fronds and take them right off - my wife is about to divorce me if
it doesn't stop. They have always chewed a bit but this year they have
gone mad and the ferns are a mess. What nourishment do they get out of
the ferns. I've always understood them to be toxic. They only seem to
tackle the mature fronds. Any ideas.
Ian D
Hullo Ian,
Your Rosellas may not actually be seeking food but nest-holes.

When the Great Flight Aviary in the Melbourne Zoo was first opened, it
had a lot of Tree-ferns. They lost the lot - because all the parrot
species thought they were ideal as nest-sites. The birds burrowed down
from the centre of the top, effectively destroying the growth centre of
the fern. (They had been provided with hollow branches and nestboxes,
but it didn't distract them from the fun of doing their own gnawing).

I think you will have to invent a parrot-baffle from strong bird-wire to
protect your tree-ferns and your marriage. Perhaps some means of
alarming them when they settle on the ferns should also be thought of.
They can be very persistent.

Of course they could just enjoy chewing the fronds. Parrots and
cockatoos often seem to enjoy chewing up stuff with no food value - such
as cedarwood house fittings. Beak exercise?

I don't think Tree-ferns are poisonous. I believe both Australian blacks
and N.Z. Maoris used to eat the inner pith on occasion.

Anthea Fleming
in Ivanhoe

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