15 new "Helmeted Honeyeaters"

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Araminta
Araminta's picture
15 new "Helmeted Honeyeaters"

Last week 15 Helmeted Honeyeaters from a captive bird breeding program (Healesville Sanctuary and the DSE), were released into the Bunyip State Park, east of Gembrook, close to where I live.Strangely enough the young birds chose an area to live in, that was scorched in the Black Saturday bushfires. Let's all hope they are going to have a good life , and most of all, that they will produce many young.

(I'm a bit worried by the fact, that DSE has started "prescribed burning" in the area the birds were released.

I just read the leaflet handed to Gembrook residents, I wish someone could explain it to me?  Amongst other things it says:  burns are conducted to "maintain the health of plants and animals", and it also "assists the natural landscape in increasing ecological values and diversity"  

Please explain ???

Holly
Holly's picture

Hey M-L

Different plants and animals respond differently to burning - some plants need to be burnt to reproduce (either to release their seeds or to germinate from the seed bank under the soil). If patches of area are not burnt then these plants can disappear from the landscape after many years and therefore that resource is removed for the wildlife. Mosaic burning kills of some plants but allows others to grow (and animals can usually move to unburned patches whilst the burning takes place). It allows different 'successional' stages of vegetation to develop across the landscape so overall increases the diversity of things in the area. Does that make sense? Its a bit late in the afternoon and my brain is moving to 'end of the working week' mode :)

 

I have no doubt that the release of the honeyeaters has been considered in the plan to burn areas but it doesn't hurt to question them on it - staff should be willing and able to talk to you about it.

 

 

 

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Thanks Holly, you make a lot of sense !!! Have a nice Easter Holiday.

M-L

Woko
Woko's picture

This is a really interesting topic. I think there are good arguments for having fires from time to time for the very reasons you state, Holly. In fact, bushland unburned for a considerable time is often regarded as "senile". However, the regime of prescribed burns needs to be very carefully timed lest too frequent burning destroys plants before they're able to set & shed seed. In this way, the existence of some plants in areas can be threatened by too frequent burning.

I'm concerned that the prescribed burn brigade are doing the burning for political rather than environmental reasons. In SA, at least, I believe what's needed is a prescribed burn reduction in parallel with a housing development reduction. It's a great contradiction of our times that people want to live in & enjoy the beauty of the bush but want the bush destroyed so that they can live free of bush fires.

It would be wonderful if there's evidence that burning advantages helmeted honeyeaters but I suspect this advantage comes some time after the burning. The fact that the released helmeted honeyeaters have chosen to live in an area burned in the Black Saturday bush fires perhaps supports this notion. However, I wonder if the prescribed burn in an area where helmeted honeyeaters have recently been released is yet another example of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing or even not caring much about what the left hand is doing.

andrewf
andrewf's picture

The area where the birds where released won't be being burned anytime soon. They like to be deliberately vague about the location of the birds and this may be why they mentioned planned burn offs.

Another 3 birds were released into the same spot last tuesday as well and are all still alive. 4 birds from the original release have been confirmed predated with a few more missing however it's likely that the missing birds are still out there somewhere.

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Oh, thanks so much Andrew , for giving me that information. You seem to have some  insider knowledge. You can imagine how happy it makes me to hear that? I have seen Helmeted Honeyeaters on my property two years ago, none lately I have to say. I deliberately never told anyone about the location, I thought the birds would be better off left alone.

If you want to write a private message to me on here, that will be fine. Otherwise I can send you a message, if I see any of them again.  

M-L

andrewf
andrewf's picture

Yeah I was radio tracking them this morning so that info is correct as of about 1:30 haha. 

That's interesting that you've seen HeHo's on your property. There are some birds which are constantly recorded out there and some which are only seen every few months so some do wonder off from their release sites. There is a chance you may have seen the Gippslandicus supspecies also. There's a few of them living in the park as well and they can be pretty hard to tell apart.

If you see them again and don't want the government doing government stuff on you property you can get in contact the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater and they'll contact the relevent DSE people (don't worry they're alright, not like some in the DSE!). It's important they know where they go as they're still discovering what specific habitat types the birds like etc.

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Thanks Andrew, I'll consider ringing the group, should I see them again.

M-L

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