Birds thriving in the ‘burbs

The ABC recently ran an article on native birds which have successfully adapted to urban environments. It begins…

Many native bird species have suffered terribly since European settlement. …

Among the cosmopolitan birds that will populate Australian gardens this spring, there is a cadre of successful natives you will see in increasing numbers each year. These winged winners have adapted to the altered habitat or even benefited from the changes.

Nature writer Tanya Loos said “unnatural” spaces — such as suburban backyards – were as appealing to certain native birds as they are to Australian families. “They happen to be lucky in that they like the habitat we modern Australian humans have created.”

The whole thing is here. It is good but it has a strong (though unmentioned) Melbourne bias which I thought needed correcting.

I will split their list of ‘winners since European settlement’ into those we don’t often see, and those doing just as well in Townsville as in Melbourne; and then I will add my own (largely crowd-sourced) list of other species doing very well here.

Doing very well in both Melbourne and Townsville
white ibis on lawn
Perfectly at home, thank you
  • White ibis (Threskiornis moluccus): all hail the mighty bin chicken!
  • Australian magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen)
  • Australian raven (Corvus coronoides) and crows (ours is the Torresian Crow)
  • Silver gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae)
  • Rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus)
  • Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
  • Willy wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys)
Winners in Melbourne but not in Townsville
  • Crested pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes)
  • King parrot (Alisterus scapularis) and other charismatic parrots including the crimson rosella, red-rumped parrot
  • Little corella (Cacatua sanguinea)
  • Noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala)
  • Superb fairywren (Malurus cyaneus)
  • Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla)
Winners in Townsville but not in Melbourne
  • Magpie-lark aka Pee-wee (Grallina cyanoleuca)
  • Plover aka Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles)
  • Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius)
  • Peaceful Dove (Geopelia striata)
  • Great Bowerbird (Chlamydera nuchalis)
Honourable mentions

The Townsville list could be extended indefinitely but the longer it is, the less useful it becomes. Any of these runners-up may outnumber my top dozen in some parts of the city but I don’t think they are more numerous overall.

  • Honeyeaters and friarbirds (which are big honeyeaters): not mentioned by my online friends but some of them are common enough, particularly the Blue-faced and Brown Honeyeaters.
  • Others: Brush Turkey, Rainbow Bee-eater, Welcome Swallow, Sunbird, Figbird, Kookaburras (both Laughing and Blue-winged), and Red-tailed Black Cockatoo.
Dishonourable mentions

Indian Mynas and Feral Pigeons, which are everywhere in real life, were not included because they’re not native. The introduction to the Melbourne list implies that they have lots of other non-native birds, too, but we haven’t got so many. The only one which seems particularly worth noting is the Spice Finch.

But wait! There’s more!

This link should take you to a gallery on iNaturalist of 150+ bird species photographed in and around Townsville. They are not just ‘suburban’, because the defined area includes a lot of our urban fringe, but it might help you identify a species you’re not sure about.

2 thoughts on “Birds thriving in the ‘burbs”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.