This National Bird Week, we've got news about a reforestation site in Northern NSW that has us all in a flutter!
For thousands of years, we’ve relied on our avian friends for information.
Welcome swallows tell sailors that land is near. Migratory birds usher the coming of a new season. In rainforests, bird diversity can offer vital information about how well an ecosystem is functioning.
With the help of Vicki Sloane from Byron Bird Buddies and ecologist Wren McLean, we recently completed a bird survey at a site reforested by our Rainforest Rangers program in Goonengerry.
Vicki and Wren watch for bird activity at the planting site.
We found that many rainforest species are already returning, just three years after we planted the first rainforest tree. It's a great sign for the future of this ecosystem!
A pair of Australasian figbirds, which disperse rainforest seeds, find rest in a tree planted by Rainforest Rangers.
Birdlife as a baseline for ecosystem health
In the past three years, we've planted a total of 6892 trees at a privately-owned farm on Jarretts Road in Goonengerry. When we returned to the site last week, it didn't take long to see that our new rainforest trees were already flowering, fruiting and drawing in bird species.
Because birds are dependent on the habitat functioning in specific ways, the species present can be an important indicator of overall ecosystem health.
Their presence also helps the rainforest regenerate naturally, by pollinating plants, dispersing seeds and recycling nutrients back into the earth.
Native frangipani species are in full flower at the Goonengerry site.
Bird survey results
In just an hour and a half, the team recorded a total of 42 bird species over a 2 hectare search area in and around the Goonengerry site.
Even more excitingly, at least 10 of the species recorded are known rainforest specialists. They included a flock of top-knot pigeons, three eastern whipbirds and a brown-capped emerald dove.
"We also heard an Australian logrunner, which are a key indicator species of healthy rainforest habitat, so wonderful to see them coming in," Vicki said.
"All of these plantings, for being so new, are already attracting many, many bird species and will continue to attract more rainforest species."
A flock of topknot pigeons sitting in the branches of a dead camphor laurel at the edge of the reforested site at Goonengerry.
Other species feeding in and around the site included up to 50 Australasian figbirds, superb fairywrens, silvereyes, rainbow lorikeets and eastern rosellas.
"For a site that was a degraded cow paddock only three years ago... there's really nice diversity," Wren said.
A red-backed fairywren sits in the branches of a rainforest tree at Jarretts Road.
Want to see more rainforest birds? Here's what you can do.
Donate to support our Rainforest Rangers program and you'll be directly contributing to to the restoration of Australia's native rainforests, improving and expanding habitat for our rainforest birds. Please, donate now.
The eastern whipbird produces one of eastern Australia's most familiar rainforest calls.
You can also join in on the birdwatching fun, by taking part in your own bird survey as part of the Aussie Bird Count https://aussiebirdcount.org.au/ before Sunday, October 22.
National Bird Week runs from October 16-23.