Reshaping our landscape to promote Superb Fairy-wren populations

Josie Jenkins is an Hons student from the University of Sydney. She is being supervised by Dr Holly Parsons from Birds in Backyards and Prof Dieter Hochuli, University of Sydney. 


The Superb Fairy-wren is one of Sydney’s, and in fact, Australia's most iconic and beloved birds (seen to the right). With it's striking blue features and promiscuous breeding patterns, we would all love to have these notable birds in our backyards. Although they are commonly used as figureheads for conservation, (and more - think of how many times you see them on tea towels, mugs and cushions!) the Superb Fairy-wren population is drastically declining in a lot of our urban areas. But why?

I am aiming to answer this question by understanding which environmental characteristics impact Superb Fairy-wren populations. We know that habitat traits will affect where these birds can find food and nest successfully. I want to identify which favourable characteristics will promote populations surviving in urban Sydney and how these can be incorporated in our environment at a larger scale. This study is being completed as an honours project with the University of Sydney, partnering with Holly Parsons from Birds in Backyards.

I will be using citizen science surveys submitted into Birdata from the early 2000's to present, including Birds in Backyards surveys This will build a picture of population trends over the decades and identify where these birds used to be found in the Hornsby LGA. These sites will be revisited in 2021 to see if populations still remain in these locations and measuring what the habitat is like now. I will also look to build a history of the land management of the sites to see what has happened and when. 

The habitat characteristics of an area can shape the life of small birds!  With this information, I will build profiles of what characteristics are most favourable to these iconic birds. Therefore, solidifying our understanding of what traits are most beneficial can help incorporate these ideas in our beautiful environment. With this, we can increase the population to new peaks, ensuring the birds will be around for generations to come.

Surveys will be conducted around Sydney’s North Shore, particularly in the Hornsby LGA. I can't wait to tell you about my findings in a few months.


You can follow Josie on Twitter: @josiejenkins98

 and   @birdsinbackyards
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