Perth front gardens crucial habitat for birds, says new research


Front gardens, even one featuring non-native plants, provide crucial habitat for birds, says new research. Picture: Randy Moore
Front gardens, even one featuring non-native plants, provide crucial habitat for birds, says new research. Picture: Randy Moore

THE role of front gardens in providing crucial habitat for birds has prompted calls for more vegetation in the metro area.

More than 2000 sites across Perth were surveyed for a study which found front gardens dominated by non-native plant species could still attracts birds.

Joe Fontaine from Murdoch University’s School of Veterinary and Life Sciences said only nectarivores – including honeyeaters and wattlebirds – were sensitive to foreign plants.

“The remainder of the birds we saw regularly, including insect-eating species like the magpie-lark and the willie wagtail, were not so fussy,” Dr Fontaine said.

“Perth gardens offer a clear opportunity for local government policies encouraging the planting of street trees and shrubs or ground layer vegetation which, if we want to encourage the nectarivores also, should be native to this region.”

With about 90 per cent of original woodland vegetation in Perth cleared over the last 200 years, Dr Fontaine said tackling lawn-dominated verges was an important step.

“With development only set to increase, it is important we find new ways to support our amazing native wildlife,” he said.

“Our gardens are a great place to start.”

The research was a collaboration between Murdoch University, UWA, the University of Idaho and Oregon State University.

To view the research, visit: https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ecs2.2172.

Survey areas:

Brentwood, Medina, Westminster, Coogee, Hamersley, Madeley, Samson, Ardross, Bateman, Shenton Park, Watermans Bay, Balga, Meadow Springs, Booragoon, Padbury, Spearwood, Yangebup, Floreat, Sorrento, Parmelia, Waikiki, Dianella, Warnbro, Hillarys, Leeming.

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