Waterway

Birds attracted to region’s nectar supermarkets

Friday 24 April, 2020
It is no coincidence that critically endangered swift parrots choose the cooler months to make the precarious journey from their breeding tree hollows in southern Tasmania to the forests of Victoria’s Goulburn Broken catchment and beyond.
“Their timing is perfect, as the autumn-flowering grey box and red stringybarks here are producing their creamy pale flowers full of nectar,” Goulburn Broken CMA’s Janice Mentiplay-Smith said.
“Of the 900 or so species and sub-species of eucalypts in Australia we’re fortunate to have a mix of many woodland species including grey box, white box, red box, red stringybark and yellow box.
“While insects are often regarded as the main pollinators of plants, in the cooler months insect populations decline, therefore eucalypts rely on a different type of pollinator to move the pollen from flower to flower, tree to tree – gliders, bats and of course birds such as the swift parrot.
“The blossoms are often quite large and form in copious bunches, which is nature’s way of ensuring there is plenty of nectar for wildlife – and therefore pollen – to go around.
“Eucalypts stagger their flowering throughout the year so that there is always pollen and nectar in the pantry for nomadic, migratory, and resident birds.”
Ms Mentiplay-Smith said many of the region’s grey box trees were paddock trees and included some that may be around one or two hundred years old.
“Over time the pressure from agricultural practices and changes to climate have caused many of these trees to die out,” she said. “Not only are they a loss to the aesthetic appeal of what we like to see as ‘farmland’, they are a loss to agriculture in the form of shade and shelter for stock, and a loss to the environment and the birds and mammals that rely upon these nectar supermarkets.”
Ms Mentiplay-Smith said while fencing off mature paddock trees was one way to protect them from stock and other pressures, it was important to look to the future, and either plant more trees or use temporary tree guards to protect the emerging self-sown seedlings that often appeared around the parent tree.
Through the Australian Government funded ‘Linking Landscapes’ project, the Goulburn Broken CMA is providing eligible landholders with up to three free purpose-built stock-proof 1.8-metre tree guards to help protect emerging grey box and other locally indigenous eucalypt paddock trees.
If you are interested in receiving tree guards, please contact Janice Mentiplay-Smith 0418316169 or email janicem@gbcma.vic.gov.au to discuss further.
Picture: Swift parrot by Chris Tzaros