Wildlife

Can you have too many Bellbirds?

Most people like the melodic ‘ding’ sound of bellbirds as they drive through a bushy area. Henry Kendall’s famous poem goes: “And softer than slumber, and sweeter than singing, the notes of the bell-birds are running and singing.”

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You may not know there is a dark side to these iconic birds. Bellbirds, or Bell Miners, don’t like sharing their nesting area with other birds and aggressively chase off visitors. Many trees especially eucalypts, have sap-sucking insects called psyllids on their leaves. They build little sugary houses called lerps to hide under. Bellbirds like to eat the lerps but they protect the psyllids to ensure ongoing food. With no small birds to control the psyllids, their numbers explode causing damage to the leaves and eventual defoliation of the trees.

In some areas, vast numbers of eucalypts have died by this process. It is called “Bell Miner Associated Dieback.” Where this occurs, there is often a dense, single-species understory such as lantana or privet where the birds nest and launch attacks on other birds.

On a property in Blacks Road, Arcadia, there are large eucalypts with dense privets underneath. Bellbirds have taken control and the eucalypts on 5 or 6 adjacent properties are suffering increasing defoliation. Our Landcare group has been successful in winning a grant to clear the privets and plant native shrubs and trees. A contract for Stage 1 has been let and work will begin in July 2013. This is challenging work for our small group and we would like residents to help us in later stages of the project.

Wildlife corridors

Wildlife corridors are links between areas of native vegetation that encourage animals and small birds to move safely between the areas. Still Creek Landcare has recently commenced management of a new corridor on Arcadia Road.

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See our Wildlife corridors brochure for more information.