Gardening for little birds: Our forest warriors

It’s time to start putting back the flora we’ve taken away and try to bring back little birds to our gardens and grow their numbers in forests. Why?

From little honeyeaters pollinating eucalypts, to tiny fairy-wrens protecting against an overrun of leaf-devouring insects, little birds play a big role in our forests as they help maintain an effective and well-working ecosystem.

Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) Tamborine Mountain - Guanaba


Creating gardens for little birds

So, how can we ensure little birds have places to go for safety, security, for breeding and to raise their young – away from the bigger birds and other unwelcome threats?

It’s all about Australian native plant layers. Start with an inner circle of bushy, shrubby plants (up to 2.5m tall). Then surround this circle with some spiky plants to keep predators out. Follow this with some lovely native grasses, small shrubs and ground covers for ultimate protection. This combination is especially good for Fairywrens.

Be careful not to use plants that attract large, aggressive Honeyeaters (such as the Noisy Miner), which can push little birds out.

And, of course, maintain the wonderful small bird habitats that already exist in forest habitats.

What kinds of plants help little birds?

White-browed Scrubwren (Sericornis frontalis) Tamborine Mountain - Guanaba


–  For scrubwrens, thornbills and fairy-wrens: Prickly, dense shrubs – hakea, acacia, sweet bursaria, burgan, leptospermum.

–  For robins, wrens and treecreepers who like insects: acacia, bursaria, correa, hardenbergia, melaleuca.

Find out more: Attracting birds to your garden (PDF): BirdLife Australia

Fight Lantana slowly

Fighting Lantana and other weeds must be done slowly and with the greatest of care, as many local little birds are most likely using the weeds as habitat and may be nesting.

Cleared weeds must then be replaced with plant species native to the area as soon as possible so as not to displace the little birds.

Find out more about managing Lantana: Including great native plant replacements for Lantana.

Some other don’ts that will help little birds

Red-backed fairy-wren (Malurus melanocephalus) Tamborine Mountain - Guanaba

Red-backed fairy-wren

Don’t be too enthusiastic about clearing undergrowth. Mess to you is habitat for little birds.
Don’t be too tidy. Little birds love wild gardens.
Don’t prune lower branches of trees and shrubs – little birds use these branches for protection against predators.
Don’t prune in fairy-wren nesting season (between July and March and September to December).
Don’t use pesticides – poison can build up in the bodies of little insectivores as they eat poisoned insects. (Little birds are great insectivores and control overrun anyway, so put that spray gun away.)

The list is from Landscape & Gardening to Attract Superb Fairy-wrens (PDF): The Glebe Society

The Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Protection Precinct is a wonderful place for little birds, from the Red-backed Fairy-wren to the Eastern Spinebill. They are an essential part of our landscape; one we need to maintain in perpetuity.

Find out about our wonderful bird population:

Noisy Friarbirds
Pheasant Coucals: Whoop Whoop birds
Magical birds of the Escarpment

The Escarpment Protection Precinct

Why bother protecting the Escarpment Protection Precinct?

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Frogmouths of the Marbled kind in Tamborine Mountain’s Escarpment

A beautiful rainforest bird, the Marbled Frogmouth (Podargus ocellatus plumiferus), is just one of the many incredible birds to make The Forest of the Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Protection Precinct their home.

The difference between Marbled Frogmouths & Tawny Frogmouths

Marbled Frogmouth (Podargus ocellatus plumiferus) in Guanaba Forest

Marbled Frogmouth

Marbled Frogmouths are very much like their Tawny counterparts (Podargus strigoides), but with some clear distinctions, including:

1. having longer tails that taper rather than flatten

2. darker yellow or orange eyes rather than yellow eyes

3. blotching underparts rather than subtle streaking

4. barred bristles appearing at the top of the beak giving them their alternative name – Plumed Frogmouths (Tawny bristles are unbarred).

But, of course, as with all Frogmouths, they freeze and become completely motionless when spotted. They do this in a bid to camouflage themselves against potential threats.

Where to find Marbled Frogmouths

Tawny Frogmouths (Podargus strigoides)

Tawny Frogmouths

Marbled Frogmouths reside in tropical and sub-tropical rainforest and montane forests.

In Australia, Marbled Frogmouths are found in North Queensland (Cape York) and from Gladstone down to the NSW border. In particular, they’re known to reside along the Canondale Ranges within Queensland’s Sunshine Coast region.

They’re also found in the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

Species status of Marbled Frogmouths

Marbled Frogmouth (Podargus ocellatus plumiferus) looking directly at the photographer

Marbled Frogmouth

Marbled Frogmouths are listed as “vulnerable” under Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act 1992, with the IUCN Red List recording a decline in species numbers.

Populations of Marbled Frogmouths are currently under threat by a range of human activities, including land clearing, timber harvesting and inappropriate fire regimes.

The species have a distinct need for un-logged, remnant forests for their continued survival; a vital reason to protect The Forest against inappropriate development.

More information

Sunshine Coast Council: Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve: Marbled Frogmouth (Podargus ocellatus plumiferus)

Sunshine Coast Birds: Marbled Frogmouth & Tawny Frogmouth

Birds in Backyards: Tawny Frogmouth

IUCN Red List: Search for at-risk species around the world

Save Guanaba Facebook

Like the Save Guanaba Facebook page for regular updates on at-risk species in The Forest of Tamborine Mountain.

What are we fighting? Find out in Save Guanaba: About us

Find out more about The Forest’s precious flora and fauna

Magical birds of the Escarpment

There are some amazing birds of Guanaba Forest in the Tamborine Mountain Escarpment, some vulnerable, threatened and endangered.

A place of many different forest types, the Escarpment provides an array of habitat for a variety of bird species as well as other significant fauna within the South East Queensland region.

Some of the bird species in the Escarpment face regional population decline, while some face national population decline. Recognition of the need to protect their habitat to secure their numbers is needed. Turning recognition into action is vital.

Here are some of the bird species facing population decline living within the Escarpment.

Grey Goshawk (Accipiter novaehollandiae)Grey Goshawk

1. IUCN report: Population decreasing.

The Grey Goshawk is a medium-sized raptor who comes in two different colour morphs.

They’re found in coastal areas in Australia’s northern and eastern spaces. The grey morph is more commonly found along the east coast in thick, sub-tropical forests.

Glossy Black-cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami)

1. Queensland species status: Vulnerable.
2. Federal species status: Endangered.
3. IUCN report: Population decreasing.

The Glossy Black-Cockatoo is the smallest of the 5 black cockatoos. Its colours are brown-black head and body, with red or orange in their tail.

Glossy Black-Cockatoos love Allocasuarina, relying on the fruit of this tree for food. They also nest and breed in tree hollows.

Land clearance has affected their habitat, which threatens the numbers of this beautiful bird.

Black-necked Stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus)

1. IUCN species status: Near-threatened.
2. IUCN report: Population decreasing.

The Black-necked Stork (also called the Jabiru) is the only stork found in Australia. They have black and white plumage, a glossy dark green and purple neck and black bill … a very distinctive bird.

The Jabiru is found in wetlands, swamps, water pools and more permanent bodies of water.

Albert’s Lyrebird (Menura alberti)Albert's Lyrebird

1. Queensland species status: Near-threatened.
2. IUCN species status: Near-threatened.
3. IUCN report: Decreasing.

The Albert’s Lyrebird is the smaller of the two Lyrebirds (the other being the Superb Lyrebird).

They’re found in a very small area of sub-tropical rainforest near the NSW and Queensland state border.

They don’t have the vocal range of the Superb Lyrebird, but their songs are still quite beautiful and recognisable.

Plumed Frogmouth (Podargus ocellatus plumiferus)

1. Queensland species status: Vulnerable.

The Plumed Frogmouth is found in Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

They live in sub-topical and moist lowland and mountain forests.

They’re considered a difficult bird to study because of their elusive nature. Numbers are threatened by land clearing, timber harvesting and fire.

Black-breasted Button-quail (Turnix melanogaster)Black Breasted Button Quail

1. Queensland species status: Vulnerable.
2. IUCN species status: Near-threatened.
3. IUCN report: Population decreasing.

The Black-breasted Button-quail is a rare Button-quail found only in Australia. It is not a true quail.

This little ground dweller is found in areas that see rainfall of between 770 and 1200 mm per year. Fragmentation of habitat has impacted seriously on their numbers.

Protecting the habitat of these amazing Australian birds is vital to their future.

More information:

Australian bird species reference: Birds in Backyards

Australia’s birds: Birdlife Australia

IUCN Threatened Species List: IUCN Red List

Search lists:

Department of Environment: Species Profile and Threats Database

Queensland Government: Species profile search