Small Bird Decline: There is one group of native Australians under threat. This group is composed of many of our small unique birds. Finches, small honeyeaters and Thornbills are some of the birds that are disappearing from many areas of Australia. This is particularly the case in suburbia. Loss of habitat and feral predators are two reasons for small bird decline.
Small birds require areas where there is an understorey of native shrubs, herbs and grasses. This understorey provides protection, nesting sites and food.
In most urban areas the rich collection of native understorey plants has been cleared leaving only trees and large open areas. This is ideal habitat for larger birds but death to smaller birds. Local Government authorities encourage this loss of habitat by enacting Tree Preservation Orders. Please donít get us wrong; Tree Preservation Orders are recognition by the community that the environment needs protection. Itís just that this protection needs to be taken one step further and we need to safeguard areas of understorey vegetation.
Many large birds, such Magpies, Currawongs and Noisy Miners, do very well in a modified environment of trees and large open areas. The presence of Currawongs and Noisy Miners spells trouble for small birds that are without sufficient understorey protection. Currawongs prey on eggs and fledglings whilst Noisy Miners are very aggressively territorial and will not tolerate smaller birds in their territory.
That all sounds pretty negative. What can the individual do to help reverse the decline of small native birds? These are some ideas that we have adopted at Yallaroo with great success. Most of these ideas are covered in other parts of our Research section. Planting lots of varieties, of native shrubs in close proximity. See Density and Diversity. On the same theme; developing multiple rows of native shrubs. See Australian Hedgerows. Small birds will also use trees above the understorey. They will perch in the trees; look around to ensure that there is no danger and then dive into the undergrowth. Have a look at Multiple Mallees for some canopy ideas. We should not forget the herbaceous layer; Australian Native Grasses and what's Underfoot have some information.
By cultivating plants that provide shelter, nesting sites and food for small birds we now have Eastern Spinebills, Yellow-faced honeyeaters and Blue Wrens, to name a few, in constant attendance in the gardens at Yallaroo.