Wings over Woollahra
Autumn bird migration is happening ... right overhead
With the arrival of cooler weather, tiny birds are flying over our homes as they migrate to find food further north. Some, like Yellow-faced Honeyeaters (which weigh only 16g), may gather in small flocks at South Head, feed on Eucalyptus blossoms, then take off high over the water towards North Head, sometimes turning back and trying again a few minutes later - it is a long and dangerous water crossing for such a tiny bird.
April 2020 surveys in the Blue Mountains and Central Coast have recorded thousands of these Honeyeaters migrating through per hour! Silvereyes are also passing through our area, some will have flown 1000kms to reach here, all the way from Tasmania. They gather to feed on berries, nectar or insects for energy on their long route.
Less commonly seen birds, like the stunning Golden Whistlers, Grey and Rufous Fantails, Mistletoebirds and Flycatchers, were seen recently pausing for a feed at Nielsen Park, with tiny Spotted Pardalotes (only 8g), which help protect the Eucalyptus trees by eating insects which feed on their leaves.
Imagine being one of these tiny birds, flying over our Woollahra suburbs and looking down for a safe place to rest and feed - what would you see? Tall trees may look promising, but are not enough, as they are defended by aggressive Noisy Miners. When the small migratory birds stop to rest and feed, they are often chased away, and valuable energy is wasted.
Where there is a bushy understory, small birds will be more protected. Ensuring a diversity of species (ideally local native ones) will provide flowers and attract insects at different times of the year - so simply by adding bushes, vines and other small plants, we can help them twice - with shelter and with food.
Imagine if your garden could make the difference to these birds’ survival!
For ideas on how your garden can support birds visit Birds in Backyards ‘Creating Places’.
So please, in the next few weeks, take a moment to listen and look up if you hear ‘prrp prrp’ calls from on high, and you may have the joy of watching migration in action!
Article courtesy of Renée Ferster Levy