Birds prove willing to cross the road for dining choices

Jan 20, 2014 by Lizzie Thelwell
Birds prove willing to cross the road for dining choices
“The Singing Dove, introduced Laughing Dove and the Singing Honeyeater were sighted more in gardens, having adapted well to the urban environment,” Dr Davis says. Credit: Rob Davis

Two local researchers spent four months watching birds cross a major thoroughfare to discover how many species of birds in Kings Park were able to cross the adjacent Thomas Road to reach nearby urban gardens.

The unique study revealed 61 per cent of species never crossed the six lanes of traffic in West Perth and those that stayed behind foraged on the insects in Kings Park that nearby gardens do not provide.

Edith Cowan University expert Dr Rob Davis says watching the ' movements provided them with an opportunity to assess how well native birds have adapted to our urban landscape.

"We found that some species were quite at home in the more structured and manicured gardens that provide them with nectar from exotic plants, whereas most were more inclined to stay in Kings Park where native vegetation offers a diet rich in insects," Dr Davis says.

The researchers observed bird crossing frequency and height over Thomas Road and the occurrence of birds in the native bushland of Kings Park and nine adjacent urban gardens.

They then recorded their foraging behaviour in both the gardens and the bushland.

A total of 83 bird surveys were undertaken in the gardens and 50 surveys were conducted in Kings Park.

Of 32 species recorded, 17 were recorded in urban gardens and 30 were recorded in Kings Park.

"Only three species were classified as generalists and happy to forage in both habitats – the Red Wattlebird, introduced Rainbow Lorikeet and Brown Honeyeater," Dr Davis says.

"The Singing Dove, introduced Laughing Dove and the Singing Honeyeater were sighted more in gardens, having adapted well to the urban environment."

This study suggests major roads are a barrier to dispersal for some birds, such as the insectivores.

At the urban planning stage, Dr Davis recommends softening the transition from urban areas to native bushland to minimise habitat fragmentation and improve connectivity for native birds.

On a smaller scale, householders can contribute to preserving and growing a viable native bird population in our gardens.

"It is vital to keep gardens native, particularly with local plants that attract insects, such as waxes, wattles and eucalyptus," Dr Davis says.

"Local councils can guide people on what is best to plant in their area, Kings Park has a regular native plant sale and there is plenty of literature on the internet about how to attract birds to your garden with plants specific to your area."

Explore further: Urban bushland vital to Perth's birds

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Urban bushland vital to Perth's birds

Nov 20, 2013

In a unique study of Perth and its surrounds, researchers have found the fragmentation of natural bushland is linked to an alarming decline in the numbers of native land birds.

Native street trees can boost birds' survival

Nov 13, 2012

As native birds continue to lose their homes due to the spread of the Australia's cities, scientists are urging city planners and householders to help save them by planting more Australian trees.

Building bird-friendly cities

Nov 19, 2012

(Phys.org)—Australian cities can keep their native wildlife – but only if they can kick their habit of urban sprawl.

Recommended for you

EU must take urgent action on invasive species

2 hours ago

The EU must take urgent action to halt the spread of invasive species that are threatening native plants and animals across Europe, according to a scientist from Queen's University Belfast.

Ranchers benefit from long-term grazing data

4 hours ago

Scientists studying changes in the Earth's surface rely on 40 years of Landsat satellite imaging, but South Dakota ranchers making decisions about grazing their livestock can benefit from 70 years of data ...

Diverse gene pool critical for tigers' survival

5 hours ago

(Phys.org) —New research by Stanford scholars shows that increasing genetic diversity among the 3,000 or so tigers left on the planet is the key to their survival as a species.

User comments : 0

More news stories

EU must take urgent action on invasive species

The EU must take urgent action to halt the spread of invasive species that are threatening native plants and animals across Europe, according to a scientist from Queen's University Belfast.

HIV+ women respond well to HPV vaccine

HIV-positive women respond well to a vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), even when their immune system is struggling, according to newly published results of an international clinical trial. The study's findings ...