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Tom Sharp planting habitat for native wildlife along Felltimber Creek.

Plant it and they will come

By Lizette Salmon, Gardens for Wildlife Albury-Wodonga project officer

How many Australian birds can you name? Twenty? Fifty? One hundred or more?

If you’re at the lower end of the scale but interested in upping your bird ID, we have just the session for you. This Sunday, July 7, ecologist and bird enthusiast Dr Damian Michael will host a free, one hour talk on getting to know your local bird life. He’ll discuss the main groups of species in our region with an emphasis on woodland birds.

Before his talk you’ll have a chance to plant trees, shrubs and groundcovers along Felltimber Creek to enhance habitat for birds and other wildlife.

Ten years ago Damian planted a single gum tree in West Albury. As it grew to over 10 meters he recorded 48 different bird species visiting the one tree, demonstrating the importance of single big trees.

But trees alone are not enough. Smaller native birds need dense shrubs for nesting and refuge from predators.

When John and Jenny Shepherd moved into a new home in Thurgoona two years ago, their yard was a bare, blank canvas; wall to wall clay with just three small trees.

As an avid birder, John’s top priority was to create a bird-friendly garden, so they planted 300 native shrubs, groundcovers and grasses.

Not all survived the frosts and semi-arid conditions, but now, just two years on, their garden has already attracted 82 bird species. Plant it and they will come.

For wildlife populations to thrive they need connectivity between vegetation patches.

Without such corridors there’s little opportunity for dispersal and gene flow is restricted.

Plantings along Felltimber Creek are a community-led restoration project reclaiming the creek from environmental weed invasion, restoring native habitat and creating a corridor to McFarlane’s Hill reserve.

See what’s already been done, plant habitat, learn about our birds and chat over free lunch during our ‘Bushes, Birds and BBQ’ event from 10am to 1pm, Sunday, July 7 at the western end of Lambourn Drive, West Wodonga.

Bring your own gloves, wear boots and dress for the weather. We’ll provide tools, lunch and a free plant for your garden, and will have an Australian Native Plant Society stall to browse and a Gardens for Wildlife display to inspire you.

Please book via Eventbrite for catering purposes.

For more on Gardens for Wildlife visit www.facebook.com/G4WAW.

Tom Sharp planting habitat for native wildlife along Felltimber Creek.