Habitat traits affecting occupancy and abundance of the Superb Fairy-wren

University of Sydney student Josie Jenkins has an update for us on her research into Superb Fairy-wrens in Sydney:


The Superb Fairy-wren is an iconic Australian native. We all recognise this beautiful bird for its striking blue features and as a familiar face for bird conservation.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post here detailing my honours project where I set out to identify the key drivers for Superb Fairy-wren abundance and whether habitat traits can predict occupancy of these beautiful birds.

To understand any drivers, we considered vegetation characteristics, bird assemblage relationships and climatic variables. By analysing all these relationships, we aimed to predict detectability of this species. A total of 60 vegetative, avian, and climatic surveys were conducted, over 20 sites within the Hornsby LGA. Survey sites were chosen from citizen science databases such as ebird and birdata (including Birds in Backyards surveys).

Once the data was analysed, we found no statistically significant results from the impact of climatic and vegetative traits (even Lantana camara, the woody weed species which is often associated with this bird!). We did find statistical evidence to suggest that Superb Fairy-wrens are more likely to be detected when the abundance of other species is lower. Suggesting that competition and intraspecies aggression - basically the bully birds, is resulting in a lower likelihood of these birds surviving in our urban spaces.

While we didn't find that the presence of these birds was impacted by the climatic and plant variables we measured here, we can see that Superb Fairy-wrens are independent and run their own game.

This study could not have been completed without input from citizen science surveys! With this information, we can build a thorough idea of distribution and behaviour of these beautiful birds. This species will never cease to be an iconic Australian bird that incites intrigue and excitement surrounding its research.


You can follow Josie on twitter @josiejenkins98

 and   @birdsinbackyards
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