Anyone who doubts the value of a single mature eucalypt in a suburban garden
as nesting habitat for native birds should read on.
We have a villa unit with an L-shaped garden in an inner suburb of Sydney.
Our garden is landscaped with a broad range of mostly locally-native shrubs,
bushes and small (<4 m) trees. The relatively small size of our garden
prevents us from having larger trees. However, our next door neighbour has a
much larger garden which backs up onto our own. That garden is dominated by
a Sydney Blue Gum (Eucalyptus saligna), which is approximately 16 m tall. In
the 7.5 years we have lived here, we have recorded the following species
nesting in this one Sydney Blue Gum:
Of course, they do not all nest in that one tree at the same time. In fact,
the Rainbow Lorikeets and Crimson Rosellas have not nested in the tree for
the last 4 years because the large tree limb that contained hollows used by
these parrots broke off in a storm. Although the Red Wattlebird and Common
Koel have been absent this year, the Pied Currawong and Noisy Miner nested
at the same time, both species producing fledglings in the last few days,
but in the case of the Currawong the fledgling it produced was a
Channel-billed Cuckoo. I find it amazing that the Noisy Miners prevented the
Pied Currawongs from raiding their nest.
It has also provided vantage points, foraging habitat and/or shelter for a
much broader range of bird species, including Powerful Owls, Boobook Owls,
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Galahs, Little Corellas, Yellow-tailed
Black-Cockatoos and at least one Gang-gang Cockatoo.
Ring-tailed Possums, Grey-headed Flying-foxes and microchiropteran bats also
regularly use this one tree. I suspect it also provides habitat for
reptiles, frogs and invertebrates too, but I haven't had the opportunity to
investigate that aspect yet.
Our garden and our neighbour's garden are located only about 250 m up the
road from the edge of The Field of Mars Nature Reserve, a forest remnant
along Buffalo Creek, a watercourse which drains into the Lane Cove River.
This nature reserve is part of a much larger bushland corridor through the
inner northern suburbs of Sydney, which probably explains why our
neighbour's Sydney Blue Gum is visited and used frequently by locally native
fauna. The tree is also located high up on the slopes of the Buffalo Creek
Valley, so birds perching or nesting in the canopy have expansive views of
the entire valley - an important feature when looking out for predators,
competitors or prey.
On a broader geographical scale, Ryde (our local shire) and nearby shires
(Ku-ring-gai, Lane Cove, Hornsby) are very leafy suburbs, with retained
areas of bushland and, collectively, there are lots of mature eucs,
angophoras and turpentines in urban gardens. The point I wish to make here
is that even single, isolated trees in peoples' gardens are important for
maintaining native biodiversity in our suburbs. There seems to be an
increasing desire in these shires and others around Australia to subdivide
larger residential allotments for further housing, or building large
apartment blocks on them, which ultimately means the removal of some or all
of these trees from peoples' gardens. I wonder what the cumulative
longer-term impact of this practice is going to be on the richness and
diversity of native fauna in these suburban areas?
Therefore, please think twice about the conservation, educational and
enjoyment values of garden trees before deciding if one should be removed.
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