Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Think before you chop plants down


The Flats where I live are under new management (new owners) and we (the renters) were told all the plants in the garden (front and back) are to be removed and planted out with Grevilleas along the boundary line within the next 3 months. The new owners care about, or so they say, about the birdlife.

Well, yesterday turned out to be the day when everything was chopped down. No-one had a say about any of it. Everything was chopped down except 4 tiny Grevilleas and 2 tiny Photineas and a few smaller plants only 4 of which were fully mature plants. All the other plants chopped down were mature or semi-mature shrubs/trees. Earlier in the morning I was filming a small bird that kept going into one of the Jasmine? bushes and another bush and I had been curious as to why it was also going into the plum tree in the middle of the lawn between Flat 2 and 3 for several weeks now. The plum tree had been mutilated so much it was now a bush not a tree.

All the birds in the area, the small ones anyway, had finished breeding, and this was a new species of bird in the area. I didn't understand what this particular bird was doing. This morning I checked the videos I had recorded yesterday and I learnt, to my horror, the bird was actually nesting and in fact had 2 to possibly 3 nesting sites in the front garden - meaning 2-3 separate nests.

Well, so much for the new owners caring about the birdlife. The nesting sites were chopped down within a matter of minutes. I just hope there were only eggs in the nests and not chicks but I suspect that the adult bird may have been feeding chicks, going on passed video recordings of nesting behaviour of another small species. The adult bird remained in the Pine tree across the road as it watched helplessly in horror as it's nesting sites and possibly it's children were killed and destroyed by a man wielding a chainsaw and Roundup poison.

Today there is no sign of the adult bird/s and they have left the area. If they plan on starting again I have no idea where they would find new nesting sites with such dense foliage as was found in the front garden. I've seen the type of plants in the area, and there are no dense foliage plants within at least 1km of where I live, especially in flower right now.

LISTEN UP PEOPLE: If you plan on cutting anything down make sure no bird is nesting in the plant first. If the plant has to be removed, and there is a bird nesting in it, WAIT FOR THE BIRD TO FINISH NESTING IN IT FIRST. Think before you act.

Let's say you don't know if a bird is nesting in a bush or tree that you want to cut down. Firstly look at the plant you want to cut down. What type of plant is it - does it have dense foliage or thin foliage? Thin foliage means you can see individual branches and the branches are not bunched together to form a dense layer for anything to hide in. If this is the case it is safe to remove the plant knowing nothing will nest in it.

However, with a plant (shrub) that has dense foliage you need to study the plant and what birds goes to it before you remove it. You must watch and listen to any birds going to the plant for about 2 weeks prior to removing the plant. You should notice, if a bird is nesting in it, that the same type of bird (and generally they call out when hanging around a nest or potential nesting site) will visit the bush quite a few times during the day, especially in the morning.

If nesting in the bush/plant the bird will disappear into the bush/plant and not come out for about 5-15 seconds. It may just look like the bird is feeding from the bush, if the bush is in flower at the time. But looks are deceiving.

If this is the case with any bird going into the bush DO NOT CUT THE BUSH DOWN UNTIL ALL BIRDS HAVE COMPLETELY ABANDONED THE BUSH, which will be several weeks after first seeing them going into the bush.

Don't be hasty in chopping any plants down until you know for certain there are no birds nesting in it or about to nest in it. To do so will cause birds to grieve and never return to your garden.

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