Native animals - Restoring habitat for woodland birds

  • Fact sheet
  • March 2016
diamond-firetails-martin-stokes
Diamond firetails (Photo: Martin Stokes)

South Australia’s ‘Declining Woodland Birds’ refers to a group of small birds that rely on woodlands for their feeding and nesting habitat.

The birds in this group vary across the landscape, but some examples are diamond firetails, brown treecreepers, brown thornbills and hooded robins. Some woodland birds are nectar-feeding, some feed on insects and some on seeds – so their habitat requirements are different.

These birds are reducing in numbers, particularly in the eastern Mt Lofty Ranges, due to a number of threatening processes including:

The good news is there are a number of simple ways local landholders can assist in preserving these iconic Australian birds.

This factsheet provides simple actions that most people can do. There are more site specific things that landholders can do and Natural Resources SAMDB staff can assist with identifying these.

Perching habitat

Small woodland birds need large trees with spreading, horizontal branches to perch on when searching for food on the ground. When trees grow close together, they grow upright, with no room or light for branches to spread out.

Action: Plant eucalypts at least 30 m apart.
Smaller trees can be a bit closer together. A good tip is to go to a place where they occur naturally and measure their average spacing.

Lack of habitat trees

Many woodland birds use sheoaks (Allocasuarina verticillata) for perching and feeding habitat. Young sheoaks are quite palatable and are often grazed out by stock, feral animals and kangaroos.

Action: Plant some sheoaks and protect them with robust tree guards.

Food supply

Many woodland birds are insectivorous and feed on a diet of insects. Insects thrive on rotting wood and organic matter, which becomes less available in open, cleared paddocks.

Action: Don’t tidy up! Leave logs and mulch on the ground.

Competition from other birds

Some of our woodland birds are termed ‘gregarious’ – which is another way of saying they are very bossy! These birds can dominate habitat areas and push the shyer birds out. Shrubs and trees with large nectar-producing flowers are often chosen for gardens and landscape plantings for ‘attracting birds’. However they encourage the gregarious birds and will thus not be available for the range of other woodland birds.

Action: When planting, select species with smaller nectar-producing flowers.
Examples include grevillea, hakea, epacris and correa.

Hunters need open spaces

Woodland birds that feed on insects are hunters that need open areas to search for food. Seed eaters also prefer open spaces to forage for grass seeds. Ideal open spaces have a healthy grass and/or shrub layer to support good insect life and provide food for the birds.

Action: Create large open spaces with grassy groundcover
A variety of native grasses is best as the seeds are available all year round.

Need more assistance?

This factsheet provides simple actions that most people can do. There are more site specific things that landholders can do and Natural Resources SAMDB staff can assist with identifying these.

Contact Natural Resources SAMDB for advice on:

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