BirdLife Southern Highlands offers tips to support displaced birds

Birds across bushfire damaged communities are struggling in the wake of the blazes that have affected much of the Southern Highlands and South Coast.

The properties of some Highlands birdwatchers have been directly impacted by the devastating bushfires.

Others are now living adjacent to or near areas of bush and forest which have been totally destroyed.

Southern Highlands BirdLife spokesman Col Kohlhagen said reports were already coming in of birds appearing in places where they had never been seen.

"An example of this is an already endangered species, the Eastern Bristlebird, appearing in a Bundanoon backyard," he said.

"It is vital that these reports are documented.

"When the mammoth task of formally assessing the level of wildlife loss begins, such pockets of displaced birdlife will be an important part of the assessment process."

Mr Kohlhagen said BirdLife Southern Highlands was concerned that while many birds might have survived the firestorm, they were now facing the prospect of finding water and food in coming weeks.

He said that several BLSH members who previously sat in the "don't feed the animals" camp were now providing readily accessible drinking points and emergency supplies of seed to tide the local birdlife over until the environment recovered.

"One member whose property at Buxton was impacted on December 19 has already noticed the first epicormic growths are beginning to appear," he said.

"She also reports that she is now feeding a family of Blue Wrens that must have been nesting in the only tiny corner of her garden which was spared."

To supplement the advice offered by organisations such as Native Wildlife Rescue and the Department of Environment, and to help members of the public care for birds, and other wildlife in these trying times, there is information available at birdlife.org.au/media/after the fire.

This deals with how to provide substitute food for a range of insect eaters such as robins, flycatchers, warblers, thornbills and many of the Honeyeaters.

It also deals with the problem of providing food for the nectar and pollen eaters such as Lorikeets and other Honeyeaters.

Mr Kohlhagen said finches and parrot are probably the easiest to cater for as they would readily take most commercially available Wildbird seed mixes and soft fruit.

"If you are not experienced seek advice about food sources as some seeds which are eaten by birds may cause problems for other wildlife," he said.

It is recommended that bread, avocado, chocolate, sugar, honey or dairy products should never be fed to any wildlife.

These additional practical suggestions are provided from the personal experience of one of our members who has commenced an emergency feeding program in a fire-ravaged area

  • Provide water in shallow dishes with a rock in the middle to allow birds to drink safety.
  • Provide dishes of varying sizes to cater for tiny medium and large birds
  • Change the water and food bowls daily to maintain good hygiene as many birds were already struggling with the dry conditions and will be susceptible to disease.
  • Try to place your feed and water stations in a location which provides protection from opportunistic predators such as Currawongs, Kookaburra and some of the smaller raptors.

BLSH also suggests that records, either written or photographic, be kept of any unusual birds which visit the feeding stations in their search for food and water. Help in identifying them is available at blsh_liaison @birdlife.org.au

This story Displaced birds need support after bushfires first appeared on Southern Highland News.