Birds play a vital role in natural ecosystems and in home gardens if allowed to do so. Smaller, common insect-eating birds include pardalotes that are effective predators of gumtree lerp insects, while tree creepers forage on tree trunks and branches for prey.
There are many Australian insectivorous birds. Thornbills, robins and scrubwrens search for small insects on the ground and in low scrubs. Larger insectivorous birds include magpie-larks and Australian magpies. Magpies can be unpopular because a minority swoop on people during breeding season, but they are tremendous predators of curlgrubs, which chew on the roots of lawn grasses. You may also see welcome swallows and woodswallows catching insects in your garden.
How to identify
- An excellent resource for identifying both native and migrant bird species is The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds, by Peter, Pat and Raoul Slater or, equally useful, the Photographic Field Guide: Birds of Australia by Jim Flegg. Alternatively contact your local ornithological society or visit Birds in Backyards and use the bird finder.
How to encourage and protect
- Keep cats out of the garden
- Grow low bushes in groups to provide a patch of dense understorey for small birds to nest or shelter in
- All birds need fresh water for drinking and bathing. Install a bird bath or small pond for them