Celebrating our local birds

Birds can be an indicator of the quality of our ecosystems. When you enter a forest or woodland you expect to hear birds, even if you can’t see them. They are usually feeding, nesting, mating or just chatting with one another. When you enter a natural area and hear nothing, then something is wrong.

Declining woodland birds is particularly worrisome in south eastern Australia. As many small woodland birds feed on or near the ground, they are vulnerable to predators, such as feral cats and European foxes. They are at risk from habitat loss with the removal of hollows or nesting sites, food sources and cover/protection from predators. Woodland birds are also impacted by native and introduced birds that ‘bully’ them out of their natural habitat through attacks or continual warning calls, such as those made by bell miners.

We have recently been taking a keen interest in the presence and patterns of woodland bird movements in our own backyard (and in the stringybark forest beyond the back gate). In the past five years we have noticed an increase in small birds, especially ones that move up onto our property. We can attribute this to two key factors – first, we are maintaining natural bushland on our property and allowing shrubs to grow up and provide shelter along fence lines; two, there is a lack of cat owners in the area with the last known cat leaving the area two years ago.

The next backyard bird project we will be embarking on is installing nest boxes to support the parrots and kookaburras that call this area home.

As you would have guessed, birds play an important role in our personal appreciation for our local environment. Their calls, colours and behaviours provide a variety of interest when walking ‘in the bush’ or down along the lakes, rivers and foreshore.

It can be hard to capture some of our smaller birds on camera – they’re quick and often ellusive. So, to celebrate National Bird Week we are participating in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count and showcasing some of Kelly’s photos that have been taken in East Gippsland this year.