The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority is celebrating birds and bats in 2024 with the ‘Year of the Wing’ community awareness campaign. This month, the Western Gerygone bird is featured.
Pronounced Jer-rig-gen-ne, the Western Gerygone (Gerygone fusca) is one of the Goulburn Broken catchment’s most beautiful songbirds. It’s one of the 24 members of the threatened Victorian Temperate Woodland Bird Community, a declining suite of bird species predominantly associated with drier woodlands on the slopes and plains north of the Great Dividing Range.
Goulburn Broken CMA project officer, Janice Mentiplay-Smith, said the woodlands were once lightly timbered with a shrubby understorey, grassy ground cover, fallen timber, large old trees, tree-hollows and other nesting sites. Various food sources such as seeds, nectar and insects were present throughout the year and sustained the Western Gerygone and other woodland birds.
“Therefore, it’s important that we value and protect this remaining habitat to help prevent these species from further decline,” Ms Mentiplay-Smith said.
“What the Western Gerygone lacks in bright plumage, it makes up for with its beautiful song. The males sing to attract a mate and stake out breeding territory.
“As well as the Goulburn Broken catchment woodlands, it’s also found in the southern half of the Northern Territory and parts of New South Wales, Queensland and South and Western Australia.”
The Western Gerygone builds a dome-shaped ‘hanging bottle’ nest woven from grass, bark and spider web, suspended from a tree branch approximately two metres from the ground. As with many species, it’s adversely affected by vegetation clearing, fragmentation and changes in fire frequency and intensity that affects food availability and nesting resources.
“The Western Gerygone inhabits sites with a healthy understorey, from where it can flutter from tree-top to shrub, pecking at insects and other invertebrates and dart through the air to catch a mid-air meal,” Ms Mentiplay-Smith said. “As an insectivore, the Western Gerygone provides a valuable ‘ecosystem service’ for farmers, such as pollination and eating pest insects.”
Scan to listen to its call:
Western Gerygone by Catarina Gregson