Natural Habitats of Birds

Different species of birds suit different types of natural habitat. Although there is much overlap in the resources that different habitats provide (e.g. insect food), some habitats are rich in certain resources. For example, heathlands are often rich in plant species belonging to the family Proteaceae, which tend to have bird-pollinated flowers that are rich in nectar. Heathlands are therefore good places to see honeyeaters. Plants of rainforests often produce fleshy fruits and berries. Rainforests are therefore good places to find fruit-eating pigeons.

Some bird habitats


Heathlands usually occur on infertile soils. Around Sydney, they are primarily found near the coast where they are subject to wind and salt spray. Heathlands do not support tall trees: most heathland plants are less than two metres tall. Heathlands are very dense habitats and because most heathland plants are hard-leaved, they form a prickly structure that provides good shelter for small birds. Many heathland plants (e.g. banksias) belong to the plant family Proteaceae, and the flowers of these species are often rich in nectar. Honeyeaters are usually a conspicuous group in heathland habitats.


Woodlands are a habitat type dominated by trees, but with a relatively low canopy cover of less than 30%. Eucalypts dominate the canopy and the understorey is relatively open, often containing native grasses. In the Sydney Basin, woodlands used to be common in the western parts which have more fertile soils. However, most of this habitat type has now been cleared, first for farmland, and more recently for housing. This pattern of land-use is common Australia-wide, and birds that naturally occur in woodlands are the most threatened in Australia.


Forests are a habitat dominated by trees, with a canopy cover of between 30 % and 50 %. There are two main types of forest in Australia, both of which are dominated by eucalypts. Wet-sclerophyll forests have a canopy that is taller than 30 metres and generally have a soft-leaved understorey, often including tree ferns. Dry-sclerophyll forests have a canopy between 10 metres and 30 metres tall, and generally have a hard-leaved understorey with wattles, peas and boronias.


Rainforests grow on deeper, more fertile soils with moister soil conditions. They have a canopy greater than 30 m in height which is relatively closed (greater than 70 % canopy cover). Rainforests around Sydney often include some eucalypts in the canopy but also have species such as figs, red cedar and cabbage-tree palms. Many rainforest plants produce fleshy-fruits and berries, which are a valuable food resource for a range of bird species, but particularly parrots and pigeons.


Wetlands are low lying areas that are at least periodically inundated with water. There are both freshwater and saline wetlands around Sydney that provide habitat for a range of species that are not present in other habitats.


Coastal habitats include beaches, headlands, estuaries and rock platforms that are home to many species of sea bird in Australia.

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