Parks and Open Spaces

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In cities some of the only open spaces available are parklands or golf courses. These spaces are very important for people and they are also very important for birds and other wildlife. However, for a diverse range of species to live there, they need to be well-planned .

The current situation

Most parks and golf courses consist of vast acreages of open, mown grass with a few scattered trees. While this works well for people, only birds such as the Noisy Miner can live successfully in them. There is no shelter or enough food for smaller birds.

What needs to be done

By dedicating a percentage of a park or golf course to dense shrubs, understorey plants and ground covers, small, insectivorous birds, e.g. the Superb Fairy-wren, and some of the smaller honeyeaters, e.g. the New Holland Honeyeater and Eastern Spinebill, can also live there. By converting some of the mown grass areas to unmown areas of seed-producing native grasses, seed-eating birds such as the Red-browed Finch and Crimson Rosella, will also be able to move in.

How much should be set aside for bird habitat?

This depends on how big the park is, but smaller birds will only spend the energy to use a new place if it provides significant resources. Research has shown that a family of Superb Fairy-wrens need about 1.5 to 2 hectares to support them successfully. Other species may need more space, but if at least a quarter of each park or golf course was dedicated to planting for birds, we would substantially increase the number of birds living in urban areas.

Why should people give up some of their parkland for birds?

  • Birds help us relax by being fun to watch and peaceful to listen to. Many Australian birds are amusing, such as the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo which often perform amazing acrobatic feats while flying or in trees and on buildings.
  • Birds teach us about the natural world in which we live by helping us mark the seasons. Spring is when migratory birds (e.g. the Common Koel) arrive, nests are built and eggs laid; Summer is when they are busy feeding their young; Autumn is when many birds relax and form non-breeding flocks and may migrate to warmer climates for the winter. Late winter is when many birds start to prepare for spring, with males singing more and nest building beginning again… and so another spring arrives.
  • Birds are a part of all cultures around the world. There are songs and even symphonies written about birds, as well as poems and stories for all ages. Fashion is sometimes based on impressions or patterns from birds and many fabrics include bird designs. Words and sayings in English reflect these connections: e.g. 'as proud as a peacock', 'wise as an owl', 'singing like a lark'.
  • Birds tell us about the health of our natural world, which relates to our own health, because they exist at many levels of the food chain, making them excellent indicators of biodiversity.

Related links

Gardening for birds

Wildlife corridors

Bush care and regeneration

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