Birds in the ‘Burbs




I’m a suburban boy.

Born in Fremantle, my childhood and teenage years were spent in Mount Pleasant.

Much of those childhood years were spent watching and sometimes catching birds of all sorts, from tawny frogmouths to magpies, to kookaburras, to name a few of the local flock.



As for the subsequent teenage years, well my focus shifted, but I was still watching birds.

In the 1960s, our suburbs were alive with birds. We kids loved finding them and their nests.

More bush back then, courtesy of less people, meant fewer houses, less invasive roads and  less concrete and bitumen smothering the suburbs.



It all added up to better lives for suburban birds, courtesy of more feeding, roosting and nesting habitats.

Some 50+ years on many birds in the burbs and other wildlife for that matter, are struggling.

But the promising take-home message from a BirdLife WABirds in the Burbs’ one day symposium was every backyard, balcony, veranda, street verge and local park matters.


Wrapping up Birds in the Burbs were panelists Dr Annie Naimo, Hannah Gulliver, Dr Holly Kirk and Paul Reed.


So suburbanites, do your best to make life for birds in the burbs better.

Karrissa Harring-Harris, Urban Birds Project Officer with BirdLife Australia, opened by telling the Manning Community Centre gathering that urbanisation was a major contributor to declining biodiversity worldwide, where native communities were threatened by the resulting landscape change and associated habitat loss and fragmentation.


Unfortunately, little was known about the change in community composition of urban birds in Australia and very few studies have used long-term trends to examine changes over time.

Karissa was followed by enthusiastic urban ecologist Holly Kirk, who said birds, like people, needed to move around landscapes for food, friends, shelter and roosting and breeding sites.

Forever fascinated by how animals move around their environment, Dr Kirk has been based in WA for a couple of years, albeit she is engaged by Melbourne’s RMIT ICON Science and its fascinating Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design.



BSUD is all about designing cities that benefit people and nature, along the way helping to conserve threatened species and improve human well-being.

By considering biodiversity from the beginning of the planning process, BSUD simplifies biodiversity-friendly design, which then delivers a broad range of nature conservation and livability outcomes.



To see the big picture of how the life of birds in the burbs can be improved, check it out at

For practical tips on how to attract birds to your suburban garden visit


It provides multiple resources and recommendations for suburban gardens, making it easy to choose the best plants, structures and behaviours to create attractive outdoor spaces that can be enjoyed and shared with wildlife.



As ReWild Perth’s very engaging Engagement Manager Hannah Gulliver told the symposium, gardens make up 80% of green spaces in Perth.

“In other words, gardens can be part of a re-wilding connection,” she explained.



The ReWild Perth project seeks to address this by empowering people to increase or introduce native habitat into their private residences.

Wherever people settle, they displace pre-existing environments and thus wildlife habitats.



To learn more about urban gardening and birds, visit:

BirdLife Australia website:

Birds in backyards website:

NRM Rewild Perth website:

Nature Link Perth website:

Owl Friendly Margaret River Region website:

RMIT University website:



Bird Images: Peter Rigby


4 thoughts on “Birds in the ‘Burbs

  1. Great information. Thanks Brendon. We all need to care for our native birds!

  2. Love this article Brendon. Living opposite a bank of bush, we see various birds come into the bird bath each morning and evening.

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