|From:||"Stephen Ambrose" <>|
|Date:||Wed, 6 Feb 2019 12:41:05 +1100|
I suspect the House Sparrow hit the perfect storm in Sydney in the very early 1990s.
1. Increased abundance and presence of predators, especially the Pied Currawong, but also cats and, in the city centre, Peregrine Falcons. I remember House Sparrows (adults and chicks) in nests in my house roof gutters (in Gladesville, about 10 NW of the Sydney CBD) being easy pickings for local Pied Currawongs in the early 1990s. In fact, a pair of Pied Currawongs nesting in a eucalypt about 200 m up the street from my home regularly ambushed sparrow nestlings and tending adult birds at nests and fed them to their own chicks. The last Blackbird I saw in the Sydney CBD landed briefly on the window ledge of the then RAOU Office in Bathurst Street in 1993, I say briefly because within seconds it was taken by a Peregrine Falcon which swooped from above. I just happened to look up at the window at the right time to see it all happen. So, I’m sure that Peregrines also took city sparrows regularly, too.
2. Increased competition for food scraps and competitive exclusion by Indian Mynas and possibly the Australian White Ibis, but I do recall that sparrows really did decline in abundance before ibises became extremely abundant in Sydney. Possibly also excluded from areas by the build-up in abundance of Noisy Miners?
3. Extensive use of herbicides, especially Roundup, in peoples’ gardens from the late 1980s onwards. Possibly reducing food supply (weed seeds), but also from secondary poisoning by ingesting contaminated seeds. The reason I say this is that Red-browed Firetails used to be relatively abundant in my local urban park until the council started spraying herbicides, then they disappeared. It took me three years to convince the council to stop spraying weeds and exotic grasses, and within 12 months, the Red-browed Firetails began to occur there again, though in lower numbers.
4. Increased urban density in inner Sydney metro areas – fewer and smaller residential gardens and more monstrous-sized high-rise apartment blocks.
5. Disease epidemics? The House Sparrow is a colonial bird, so you might expect infections to spread quickly.
As I said earlier, all these factors combined probably created the perfect storm.
They were pretty common when we first moved to Box Hill 30 odd years ago but had completely disappeared by the turn of the century (probably around the time the Noisy Miners turned up).
They are in plague proportions on our home on the Bellarine Peninsula and I’ll have to find a way to stop them eating the chook food.
Sent from my iPad
> On 6 Feb 2019, at 10:15 am, Anthea Fleming <m("labyrinth.net.au","flambeau");">> wrote:
> In Melbourne, there are plenty of House Sparrows in the CBD and around shopping centres. Lots of food there. But they have largely disappeared from parks and house gardens.
> Anthea Fleming
>> On 6/02/2019 9:37 AM, Michael Hunter wrote:
>> Am briefly in downtown Melbourne, outside the Town Hall, and amazed at the number of House Sparrows.
>> None in Sydney or Brisbane .
>> What has Melbourne got that they don't ?
>> Cheers. Michael
>> Sent from my iPhone
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