The Urban Environment

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There is a range of habitats available to wildlife in urban areas, with considerable variation both between suburbs and within a suburb.

The inner city

The inner city is dominated by buildings which are home to only a few species of bird, notably the common pigeon (Rock Dove). However, even within the inner city there are parks and gardens that provide habitat for a limited range of native fauna. Parks are usually dominated by trees and lawns which do not provide the understorey habitat needed by most small birds. The most commonly encountered birds in parks are large birds, particularly seed eaters and carnivores that can scavenge food from humans.

The suburbs

Suburban areas also have parks and other green spaces including school yards and golf courses. Again, these habitats are usually poor in understorey species and are dominated by open, mown grass with a few scattered trees. Birds species are mainly parrots, large carnivores and large honeyeaters. Golf-courses frequently contain ponds that often attract water birds, particularly if they include emergent vegetation (e.g. rushes, sedges). However, planting a small area of a golf-course (or adjoining suburban back yards) with a dense understorey can allow species such as fairy-wrens to colonise. Open lawns provide suitable foraging sites for fairy-wrens and some other small birds, but they are still dependent on nearby understorey for shelter and nests sites.

Urban gardens

Urban gardens also provide suitable habitat for a number of bird species, particularly parrots, large honeyeaters and large carnivores. In Sydney and most cities along the east coast of Australia these are adaptive, opportunistic species, including: Noisy Miner, Australian Magpie, Pied Currawong, Australian Raven, Australian White Ibis and Rainbow Lorikeet.

Gardeners tend to favour plants that produce attractive floral displays over a long growing season. Such plants produce abundant resources for honeyeaters. Berry-producing plants are also popular with gardeners, and these provide valuable resources for parrots and currawongs. Urban gardens also tend to have a relatively high lawn cover, and in combination with excess pet food and food scraps, this habitat provides an abundance of resources for large carnivores.

Suburbs with remnant bushland

Some suburbs, particularly in the outskirts of cities, still contain remnants of native bushland. If they are large enough, these patches can act as reservoirs for species, especially small birds that are not able to meet all their life-cycle needs in urban gardens.

Related links

Gardening for birds

Remnant bushland

Wildlife corridors

Urban landscapes: open spaces

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