Small insect-eating birds

Small insect-eating (insectivorous) birds have been most affected by urbanisation in Australia. Only 15 % of all the species commonly found in cities weigh less than 15 g. This contrasts with birds in native bushland, where around 40 % weigh less than 15 g. In comparison, larger birds dominate cities, with 30 % of species in the 80 g to 200 g weight range; in bushland, less than 10 % of bird species weigh this much.



Several factors are involved in the loss of small birds from cities. The two most significant factors are:

  1. Small birds are always vulnerable to predation from larger species. This happens most during the breeding season because eggs and nestlings are unable to escape. Several species of large bird - notably the Pied Currawong - have become more common in cities. They are voracious nest predators and it is likely that Pied Currawongs have an impact on the small birds by limiting their ability to reproduce. Other predatory species, like ravens, butcherbirds and kookaburras, also seem to do well in cities, making life even more dangerous for small birds. One reason that the larger birds do well in cities is that they are more likely to benefit from human-created foods (petfood, garbage, foodscraps and carrion) than small birds, which mostly eat insects.
  2. Small birds generally can't compete with larger birds for resources. In particular, the Noisy Miner, a common inhabitant of eastern Australian cities, excludes small insectivores (insect-feeders) and nectarivores (nectar-feeders) from its territories. Noisy Miners have become more abundant and widespread in many Australian environments, and are strongly implicated in the loss of small birds from cities.

Related information

Some of our small-insect eating birds include:

Scientific Name: Anthus novaeseelandiae
Scientific Name: Orthonyx temminckii
Scientific Name: Acrocephalus australis
Scientific Name: Monarcha melanopsis
Scientific Name: Gerygone mouki
Scientific Name: Acanthiza pusilla
Scientific Name: Falcunculus frontatus
Scientific Name: Epthianura tricolor
Scientific Name: Taeniopygia bichenovii
Scientific Name: Melanodryas vittata
Scientific Name: Petroica phoenicea
Scientific Name: Pardalotus quadragintus
Scientific Name: Pachycephala pectoralis
Scientific Name: Cisticola exilis
Scientific Name: Rhipidura albiscapa
Scientific Name: Pomatostomus temporalis
Scientific Name: Melanodryas cucullata
Scientific Name: Acanthiza apicalis
Scientific Name: Microeca fascinans
Scientific Name: Sericornis magnirostra
Scientific Name: Myiagra rubecula
Scientific Name: Megalurus gramineus
Scientific Name: Gerygone levigaster
Scientific Name: Pachycephala olivacea
Scientific Name: Tregellasia capito
Scientific Name: Petroica rodinogaster
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