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Nice weather for ducks and other water birds

The recent winter rain has provided a boost to the water-loving birds and waterbird habitat of our catchment.  It is also a timely reminder for land managers to think about what they can do to help improve waterbird habitat condition, landscape health and ecosystems.

Waterbirds (shorebirds or waders), waterfowl (ducks, geese and swans), and others birds such as pelicans, cormorants, darters and ibis depend on bodies of water to feed and breed.

After flood events, conditions are perfect for an increase in waterbird numbers.  There is more abundant food available as wetland plants, fish and invertebrates increase following flooding. Waterbirds have a breeding response which has evolved to react to natural cycles of flooding events.  Some species have an incredibly quick response, moving large distances to recently flooded wetlands to breed.

Features that can be added to any body of water, including farm dams, to improve the habitat value for waterbirds include:

  • Fence off creeks, rivers and wetlands from stock to minimise the damage to the water edges and water quality.  Think about using off-site watering systems.
  • Leave standing dead timber as this provides a safe roosting area near the water.
  • Add hollow logs, branches or pipes into the water as these provide habitat for fish.  If you add them in shallow water areas they also provide roosting sites in the water for birds such as cormorants.
  • Incorporate a variety of depths such as a larger area of shallow water, exposed mud and deep water.
  • Edges are very important as this is where the most plant diversity and wildlife activity happens.  Increase your edges – bays, peninsulas, and islands in larger dams.  Islands offer a safe place for birds to breed, away from foxes and cats.
  • Establish a variety of native plants.  Rushes and scattered trees and shrubs around the edges (no trees on the dam wall or spillway), a windbreak on one side, trees and shrubs to stabilise the entry into the dam and leave one side clear for a flight path.

South East Local Land Services has funded some of these activities in past projects, including fencing, planting and off-stream stock watering systems.  To find out more about improving habitat for waterbirds please contact Rebecca Widdows, South East Local Land Services, Yass on 02 6118 7706.

ENDS

Media contact: Rebecca Widdows, 02 6118 7706