There are lots of things you can do to encourage birds and animals to live happily in our villages. Here are a few ideas:
Volunteer for a community group
Community groups work hard to make our villages a great home not just for us but for our plants and animals. The following groups are helping to restore bushland in the city by planting locally indigenous plants and undertaking weeding and other works to encourage birds, lizards and other species in our villages.
- Pyrmont Ultimo Landcare are a group of volunteers who work every Wednesday morning at various sites in Pyrmont, and at the Wentworth Park Light Rail station every Sunday morning. Contact Elizabeth Elenius to get involved.
- Glebe Bushcare Group work every Wednesday morning at sites in Federal and Jubilee Parks, Glebe. For more information, get in touch with David Lawrence.
- Friends of Orphan School Creek work periodically at Orphan School Creek in Forest Lodge. Contact Judy Christie for upcoming dates.
- The Glebe Society’s Blue Wren Group promote small bird habitat conservation through planting days, working bees and other events in Glebe and Forest Lodge throughout the year.
If you’d like more information about these groups, or are interested in starting your own, let us know.
Help us to improve habitat
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Keep in mind we all have to share the parks in the city as one big backyard. To keep our green spaces beautiful the City organises special planting sites each year as part of National Tree Day. Everyone’s welcome to come along on the day to plant locally indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses in a selection of our great, green parks. We also have smaller, localised planting events at other times during the year. If there is a site you’d like to plant out in your area, contact us and let us know!
Create habitat in your backyard
You can encourage indigenous species by creating habitat in your backyard, your balcony, in the common areas of your apartment complex, at your school, or even on your roof or walls. Even small areas can be important – they can act as ‘stepping stones’ between larger habitat areas. We have free workshops on this very topic.
If you want to get crackin’ here are some of our top tips:
- Plant locally indigenous shrubs and grasses. They provide food and shelter for little birds like the adorable Superb Fairy-wren and the striking New Holland Honeyeater.
- Avoid planting large-flowering varieties (such as hybrid Grevilleas) as these encourage larger, aggressive birds such as the Noisy Miner that bully the smaller, less common birds.
- It’s also a good idea to avoid planting species that have large or abundant fruit, as these encourage the Pied Currawong, which feeds not only on the fruit but also on the chicks and eggs of smaller birds.
- Bring on the water works! Birds love baths and frogs love ponds. Frogs like the Striped Marsh Frog and the Common Eastern Froglet are regular visitors to water worlds in the city. Peron’s Tree Frog and the tiny but beautiful Dwarf Eastern Tree Frog are also about – you may attract them too if you’re lucky!
- Lizards go crazy for rockeries and rock retaining walls. Just ask the Eastern Blue-tongue, Bar-sided Skink, Eastern Water Skink and Wall Skink. Lizards also love logs, rock piles, or even bricks or roofing tiles placed amongst thick vegetation on the ground.
- Avoid use of herbicides and pesticides such as snail baits – try chemical-free gardening instead. Herbicides and pesticides often have flow-on effects up the food chain – for example, Eastern Blue-tongue can die if they eat a snail that has taken bait. Snails are an Eastern Blue-tongue’s favourite food, so if you have them in your backyard you shouldn’t need baits anyway!
- Don’t feed birds, possums or other animals as this encourages the common and most aggressive species often at the expense of others. Besides, the food we give them is not usually part of their natural diet. They can find their own food, especially if backyards and balconies have loads of lovely indigenous plants!
Keen to learn more?
Here are some of our favourite sites to learn more about birds, other animals and our great green surrounds in Sydney.
Birds in Backyards Find out more about Australian birds and their habitats, and learn how to create bird-friendly spaces in your garden and local community.
Backyard Buddies This website is for everyone who enjoys their backyard animals, including the smaller species like insects, and those who want to learn more about them, find out how to attract them and how to live with them.
Australian Association of Bush Regenerators This association encourages best practice in bushland management and bush regeneration. It has lots of useful information about managing native plants, including workshops and events, and also provides some great information about creating fauna habitat – check out ‘Fauna Corner’ under the Resources section.
Discourage pests like the Common Myna and Noisy Miner
The Common Myna (also known as the Indian Myna) is an introduced bird species that is considered a pest in Australia. However, despite most people’s perceptions, there is no evidence they’re having any impact on biodiversity in Sydney. Research has shown that it’s actually the native Noisy Miner, an aggressive and territorial species, that is negatively impacting on small bird populations.
Indian Mynas commonly pick off seedlings in vegetable gardens, they sometimes raid fruit trees, and they often eat pet food. They also like to nest in roofs, under eaves, in gaps in buildings and in air-conditioning systems, and can cause considerable damage to property. They often roost in trees in large numbers at night, where they can be very noisy.
To discourage both species from your neighbourhood, try the following:
- Plant more locally-native shrubs and grasses and reduce your lawn area if you can.
- Don’t feed birds – they don’t need extra food
- Feed pets inside if possible and if it isn’t, don’t leave your pet’s unwanted food where birds can get it – these birds will eat almost anything and pet food is a favourite.
- Place netting over your vegetable garden.
- Block off holes in roofs and eaves to stop birds nesting there and, hopefully, break the nesting cycle.
- Keep palms and other non-native trees trimmed and remove dead fronds.