Watching small birds in your garden is a delight. You might catch sight of the red flashes as small red-browed finches dart through bushes, or hear female wrens chattering amongst themselves about the wonderful blue coloured male showing off. These are some of the delights you experience when you have small birds using your garden as their home or playground.

The natural habitat of many small birds (birds that are less than 20 cm long) is patches of dense vegetation within bushland. With urban settlement, little dense vegetation remains and what does remain is in fragmented and isolated pockets. This leaves very few areas in which small birds can live, breed and take shelter when threatened.

These last refuges may be all native plants or all weed plants or a combination of both. In our urban areas sadly often the small birds are only found in the “waste land” areas which are totally overgrown with weeds. In this situation what is bad is in fact good. Bad weeds do make good habitat! In fact, in many urban areas, they are the only habitat small birds have left. This tells us a lot about the requirements of small birds and something about how we should be managing our gardens, parks and bushland. It illustrates the structure of what we need to provide if we wish to save small birds, such as, superb and variegated fairy-wrens, whitebrowed scrubwrens, silvereyes, spotted pardalotes and eastern spinebills from local extinction.

Small birds need protection from predators such as dogs, cats, foxes and larger birds such as ravens, currawongs and butcherbirds as well as from aggressive competitors such as lorikeets, wattle birds and noisy miners. Many Australians, in their efforts to attract birds to their garden, have planted showy, nectar-producing plants that attract aggressive honeyeater birds that compete with, and drive away, smaller birds. To keep safe, small birds generally live in and take refuge in dense, multilayered vegetation. By studying the structure of the vegetation, in which small birds are found, we may be able to reproduce these habitats utilising local native plants in bushland and parkland areas, and a mix of native and non native plants in our home and community gardens. Source: Talk to our wonderful local nurseries about your next plantings!

Also see for great ideas on bird baths, nest-boxes, attracting frogs, lizards and butterflies.

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