Feral birds are taking over Bathurst backyards

ENDANGERED: The regent honeyeater.
ENDANGERED: The regent honeyeater.

A COMMUNITY survey of bird populations within the Bathurst region has confirmed fears that feral species are becoming increasingly dominant in the local area.

Ninety-five Bathurst volunteers took part in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, sitting for 20 minutes at a time and using a phone app or website to record the birds they saw.

In all, the volunteers submitted 251 checklists that recorded 7400 local bird sightings over a week-long period.

Feral common starlings were the most commonly sighted birds, accounting for around 13 per cent of all bird sightings and featuring on more than 50 per cent of the checklists submitted by Bathurst volunteers.

A report to Wednesday night’s Bathurst Regional Council meeting by acting environmental planning and building services director Janet Bingham said the results showed the Bathurst region was moving quickly to an environment dominated by introduced bird species.

She said the change had been been blamed on the replacement of native vegetation and a move to simplified backyards without a diversity of grass, shrub and tree species.

“Native species are being replaced by feral species and smaller natives are being replaced by larger, more aggressive native species,” Ms Bingham states.

“… As the results show that feral bird or aggressive native birds continue to increase, it is recommended that council consider opportunities to increase the proportion of native plantings within the urban and suburban environment, not just in council reserves but in street tree plantings and new developments.

“Such plantings provide key corridors, food resources and refuges for native species and are less likely to attract and support feral species.”

Other feral species listed in the local surveys’ top-10 sightings were the house sparrow and common blackbird.

In brighter new, the surveys also recorded encouraging sightings of the critically endangered regent honeyeater.