New research out of UNSW shows there are six birds for every human on the planet, so it seems only reasonable to grow more trees for them to live in.
This Sunday (1 August) is National Tree Day, and with many Australian communities unable to take part in group activities due to lockdowns, residents are being encouraged to instead plant a tree in their garden.
Research conducted by a team of scientists from the University of New South Wales incorporating citizen science and advanced algorithms, estimates that there are 50 billion individual birds on the planet. That’s six birds for every human.
The study also found that, of the 9,700 different bird species on earth, just a handful of species make up the majority of the world’s bird population with rarer birds only found in much smaller numbers.
Which makes it even more important that we plant trees that can provide shelter and food for small birds, as well as for the larger, more common ones like parrots, cockatoos and magpies.
Trees with dense, spiky foliage offer protection for smaller birds, such as wrens, silver-eye and thornbills, as their bigger cousins can’t invade the space. So even if you only have room for a small tree, it can still provide a much-needed haven.
A visit to your local nursery should help you choose plants that can be home for a variety of native birds, but here are some suggestions –
– Banksia ericifolia – its nectar-rich, large orange flowers in winter feed birds, insects, even animals like sugar gliders or marsupial mice.
– Callistemon will attract seed-eating, insectivorous and nectar-feeding birds and rarely need any special care.
– Grevillea rosmarinifolia and cultivars – prickly and tough, these small grevilleas provide a great hiding and nesting place for small birds, and lovely pink/red flowers as a bonus.
– Acacia (Wattle) species – many wattles provide shelter for smaller birds, flower in winter, and produce masses of seeds in spring or summer to feed seed-eating birds from thornbills to pigeons and parrots.
For the last 25 years, National Tree Day has offered a way to reconnect with both nature and our community, through tree-planting as a group activity organised by local councils. Over 25 million trees have been planted since 1996 as part of the program.
Planet Ark Deputy CEO Rebecca Gilling says the event provides a fantastic opportunity for Australians to make a personal difference through positive environmental action.
“There are clear benefits to spending time in nature and by planting a tree you can help cool the climate, provide homes for native wildlife, and make your community a better place to live”, she says.
For more information and to find events in your local area, visit treeday.planetark.org. If you are currently under lockdown but would like to plant some trees in the local bushland, contact your council to see where and what plants would be suitable.