April 8 - 14, 2018: Issue 355

Attracting Insectivore Birds to Your Garden: DIY Natural Tick Control

Red wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata) - an insect eater
In Reducing Ticks in Your Garden: Garden care, Plants that Repel, What to Wear Outdoors a few insights into maintaining your garden to reduce tick incidence lists the small bird insectivores, species like the Silvereye, White-throated TreecreeperSpotted Pardalote, Gerygone Fairywren and Thornbill, which feed on the ticks. Attracting these birds back into your garden will provide not only a residence for tick eaters but also the delightful moments watching these tiny birds provides.

They are still around in Pittwater, so providing areas between the bush reserves they are still seen in; Barrenjoey headland, Ingleside,Narrabeen lagoon and Warriewood wetlands, as well as everywhere in between, may increase their numbers and lessen tick pockets.

In Tips for Growing a Native Garden how to plant and look after the flora that will bring these back smaller birds is shared. This page lists some of the plants specifically attractive to small bird insectivores and a few other ideas on how to make your garden their oasis. 

By planting a range of native plants of different heights and densities in your garden, you will encourage many different small birds to visit or even take up residence. You could see Finches, Silvereyes, Wrens, Robins, Wagtails, Pardalotes and small Honeyeaters visiting your home and their delightful little twitters, as many of these birds are quite gregarious, will let you know where they are even when you can't see them.

As these birds feast on insects they will also reduce the need to use pesticides.


Silvereye ( Zosterops lateralis)
The Silvereye is a small bird with a conspicuous ring of white feathers around the eye, and belongs to a group of birds known as white-eyes. The Silvereye shows interesting plumage variations across its range. The grey back and olive-green head and wings are found in birds through the east, while western birds have a uniformly olive-green back.
Silvereyes feed on insect prey and large amounts of fruit and nectar.

White-throated Treecreeper (Cormobates leucophaea)
The White-throated Treecreeper is dark brown, with a distinctive white throat and chest, and white streaks on its flanks, edged with black. The wings have a red bar that is visible in flight and the undertail is barred. The female has an orange mark on the sides of the face. Like other treecreepers, spends most of its time foraging in trees and has a short, spiralling flight.
The White-throated Treecreeper feeds mainly on ants, but will eat other invertebrates as well as nectar.

Spotted Pardalote (Pardalotus punctatus)
The Spotted Pardalote is a tiny bird that is most often high in a eucalypt canopy, so it is more often detected by its characteristic call. The wings, tail and head of the male are black and covered with small, distinct white spots. Males have a pale eyebrow, a yellow throat and a red rump. Females are similar but have less-distinct markings. 

The Spotted Pardalote forages on the foliage of trees for insects, especially psyllids( tiny native sap-sucking insect that are occasionally referred to as plant lice), and sugary exudates from leaves and psyllids.

Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus)
The Superb Fairywren, also known as the Superb Blue-wren or colloquially as the Blue Wren, is a passerine bird of the family Maluridae, common and familiar across southeastern Australia. The species is sedentary and territorial, also exhibiting a high degree of sexual dimorphism; the male in breeding plumage has a striking bright blue forehead, ear coverts, mantle, and tail, with a black mask and black or dark blue throat. Non-breeding males, females and juveniles are predominantly grey-brown in colour; this gave the early impression that males were polygamous, as all dull-coloured birds were taken for females.
The Superb Fairywren mainly eats insects and supplements its diet with seeds. 

Male Superb Fairy Wren. 

Female Superb Fairy Wren. 

 Willy Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys)  - also loves insects

Striated Thornbill (Acanthiza lineata) and Brown Thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla)

The Striated Thornbill can be distinguished from the similarly sized and shaped Brown Thornbill, A. pusilla, by its orange-brown cap streaked with white and by black streaking on its yellow-white underparts. In January this year we brought you a page of those Brown Thornbills found happy in the trees beside the yellow brick road at Avalon. It also has a thinner, higher pitched call than the Brown Thornbill and is more commonly found higher in trees. The Striated Thornbill pictured here (below right) was photographed at Ingleside and is found only in the south-eastern mainland of Australia from southern Queensland to eastern South Australia.

They live in open forests and woodlands, mainly those dominated by eucalypts, with a well-developed understorey. They are sometimes seen in parks and gardens, preferring areas that are more than ten years old and can also be common in agricultural areas, particularly in areas with remnant patches or tree corridors near forests or woodlands.

The Striated Thornbill feeds mainly on insects, but may sometimes eat seeds, nectar or fruit. They mainly feed in trees in small flocks, but may sometimes feed on the ground. Will be seen feeding in mixed flocks with other small insect-eating birds. Striated Thornbills may be important in reducing psyllid infestations after Bell Miners (which 'farm' the psyllids) have been removed from an area.

The Brown Thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla) is a passerine bird usually found in eastern and south-eastern Australia, including Tasmania. It can grow up to 10 cm long, and feeds on insects but may sometimes eat seeds, nectar or fruit. 

They feed, mainly in pairs, at all levels from the ground up, but mostly in understorey shrubs and low trees. Will feed in mixed flocks with other thornbills out of breeding season. 

The one pictured below was photographed beside the Careel Creek, which has been restored through local bushcare volunteers.

These birds love:
  • The nectar of native trees and bushes. Plant flowering trees that are native to your area, eucalypts such as swamp mahogany, angophoras, spotted gums or ti-trees. They like a variety of foods so give yourself a variety of plants and native grasses. Silvereyes love Figs, Lillipillies, Bluebuerry, Ash and Walking stick Palm, which provide them with shelter and protection too. 
  • Finches eat the seeds from mature native grasses such as Wallaby Grass, Red Fruited Saw Sedge, Tussock Grass, Kangaroo Grass, Wiry Panic, Basket Grass, Wire Grass, Plumegrass, Hedgehog Grass and Weeping Grass.
  • Plump, juicy insects and bugs. Offer a feast of bugs and insects by mulching your gardens well and leaving a bit of leaf litter under your trees and bushes. These birds love to eat all of the critters that live in your mulch like earthworms and grubs or up in your trees, like spiders and moths. 
  • Clean water. Keep a bird bath in your garden for small birds to drink and bathe in. Keep the water is clean and locate it above the ground so they feel safe from predators. Bird baths should be shallow enough to allow birds to stand in them to clean their feathers. It’s also helpful to choose baths that have sloping sides or to put stones at the edge to provide gradual access to the water. It may also be a good idea to have two sources, or bird baths, in your garden and these need to be located  where the birds will feel safe or able to escape quickly if startled. Bird baths or ponds (preferably multiple drinking sites) can dart for cover in an adjacent “prickly” bush if placed so they are little bird friendly. 
  • Give your little birds a safe path to travel around your garden between their treetop homes and the ground. Along with your taller native trees, plant soft shrubs about 1-2 m high, surrounded by bushes the same height that are a bit more spiky and protective. Add small shrubs for food and shelter, and plant mixed native grasses and ground cover so that there are plenty of insects for Silvereyes to eat.
Bill Conroy, once a long term Avalon resident, in Ticks in residential areas and institutional gardens in the Pittwater Shire and adjacent areas, stated that 'among trees shrubs the smooth-barked species with large shiny well spaced leaves are less likely to harbour ticks than those with rough or papery barks and dense tightly packed or furry foliage. Among native trees and shrubs, Eucalyptus, Angophoras, Tristanias, Brachychitons, Clerodendrum and Acronychia are less likely to be harbouring ticks than species of Grevillea, Hakea, Leptospermum, Melaleuca, Casuarina and Kunzea. The latter group group tend to have tightly packed fine leaves or leaflets towards the end of their branches giving the sort of moist sheltered conditions where ticks can await opportunity to brush off on a passing human or animal.' When installing an insectivore bird-friendly garden you may want to include some of these as they will be 'gleaned' by such birds of ticks.

Australian Native Plants List
The following is a list of Australian native plants that are recommended within the backyard bird garden by those in the know. That said, it’s a great idea to check with our local plant nursery (Green Life at Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Mona vale has a trained horticulturist on staff) or bird watchers group for their recommendations. As always, it’s incredibly important to avoid invasive plants and get rid of these if in your garden, especially those with bird attracting fruits or seeds, like the currently flowering Cassia (Senna pendula) which will be spread into bush reserves by birds eating it and take over these if not pulled out. Where a species name only is mentioned in the below lists, it is important to source locally native variations of these plants.

Grasses – Provide seed, shelter and nesting material
Poa labillardieri – Common Tussock Grass
Themeda triandra – Kangaroo Grass
Austrodanthonia sp. – Wallaby Grass

Groundcovers and Wildflowers – Provide nectar, seed, shelter and host insects
Dichondra repens – Kidney Weed
Kennedia prostrata – Running Postman
Banksia sp.
Grevillea sp.
Hibbertia sericea – Guinea Flower
Chrysocephalum sp. – Everlastings

Shrubs – Provide nectar, seed, shelter and host insects
Acacia sp. – Wattle
Correa sp.
Bursaria sp.
Leptospermum sp.
Melaleuca sp.
Callistemon sp. – Bottlebrush

Trees – Provide nectar, seed, shelter, nesting sites and host insects
Eucalyptus sp. – Gum Tree
Leptospermum sp.
Melaleuca sp.
Acacia sp. – Wattle

Little birds don't like:
  • Open grasslands or lawn without any trees or bushes to hide in.
  • Predators like cats, and birds of prey like hawks.
  • Gardens with only a few types of plants. They like a variety of foods.
Happy birding!

Sold by Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale
Contains citronella essential oil - nature's weapon against mosquitoes. Vibrant modern colour assortment to liven up any outdoor entertaining area. Add ambiance to outdoor entertaining. Made from quality materials for a cleaner burn. Colours include, sky, berry, coral, lime, white, citrus

Sold by Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale
Organix Weed Blitz is a new generation, wholly plant derived, knockdown and pre-emergent herbicide. Organix Weed Blitz herbicide is not a systemic herbicide but rather works by stripping the outer coating of contacted plant and seed material, causing cell collapse. Made entirely from plant sources, Organix Weed Blitz herbicide offers a host of user benefits. Does not harm soil microbia, no effect on birds, bees and earthworm populations. Organix Weed Blitz is not residual in the soil.

Sold by Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale
Amgrow Australian Native Mix contains composted organics, coir fibre, active minerals, Nutrismart fertiliser, Wettasoil wetting agent, zeolite and gypsum. Been scientifically formulated to provide ideal growing conditions for native plants. It can be used as a potting or planting mix. Contains a specific native base fertiliser low in phosphorous making it safe for Australian native and Proteacae plants. Australian Standard Premium Red Tick.

Sold by Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale
Ecosmart Native Fertiliser is a balanced formulation of essential nutrients specifically formulated for all native trees and shrubs. It contains NutriPlus, a unique bio-active compound fertiliser which is high in carbon and humic acids. This component enhances nutrient uptake, increases soil organic matter and improves overall soil health. Ecosmart Native Fertiliser is low in phosphorus as native plants have generally developed on poor, low phosphorous soils and have the ability to obtain adequate phosphorus when phosphorous levels are very low.

Sold by Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale
Easy to use soil wetter in economical concentrate form. Concentrated wetting power improves re-wetting and water penetration saves water time and money. Enriched with seaweed extract to reduce plant stress and improve plant and soil health. Environmentally friendly low aquatic toxicity means that is now safe to use around ponds and waterways ' proven by CSIRO research. Lasting up to 6 months.

Sold by Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale
An excellent mulch combined with wetting agent and organic fertiliser all in one easy step application. Conserves moisture in soil and protects plants from extremes of hot and cold. Soil conditioning improves soil structure and nutrition. Wetting agent added to improve rewetting. Australian Standard Certified.

18V. Cordless brushless hammer driver drill. Cordless brushless impact driver. Includes batteries, charger and carry case.

18V. 3 Piece combo kit. Cordless brushless hammer driver drill, impact driver and angle grinder. Includes batteries, charger and carry case.

For additional information 
Please visit these useful websites: 
For more information about safe tick removal, visit www.tiara.org.au

Bird photos by A J Guesdon
Green Life Garden Centre at Johnson Brothers Mona Vale

Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 New Store
73 Bassett Street
Mona Vale - Online Store: Jbhmv.Com.Au

Products advice is available from the trained friendly staff at Narrabeen, Mona Vale and Avalon Johnson Brothers Mitre 10. 

Click on logo to visit Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 website

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Avalon            (02) 9918 3315

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale     (02) 9999 3340

JBH Timber & Building Supplies          (02) 9999 0333

JBH Fencing & Landscape Supplies    (02) 9970 6333

www.johnsonbros.com.au Online store: jbhmv.com.au

All information and tips in this publication are of a general nature only and neither Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 or Pittwater Online News does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information and tips in this publication. This publication is not intended to be a substitute for expert advice. Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 advises you to always consult an experienced and qualified person when undertaking jobs of this kind (including consulting a qualified tradesperson such as an electrician or plumber where relevant expert services are required). 

You should also consider any safety precautions that may be necessary when undertaking the work described in this publication (including wearing any necessary safety equipment such as safety glasses, goggles or ear protectors or hard hats). The information and tips in this publication are provided on the basis that Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 and Pittwater Online News excludes all liability for any loss or damage which is suffered or incurred (including, but not limited to, indirect and consequential loss or damage and whether or not such loss or damage could have been foreseen) for any personal injury or damage to property whatsoever resulting from the use of the information and tips in this publication. 

Pittwater Online News and Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 also advises there may be laws, regulations or by-laws with which you must comply when undertaking the work described in this publication. You should obtain all necessary permissions and permits from council and/or any other relevant statutory body or authority before carrying out any work. Major projects published in this publication always list these and/orlinks to where you may research what your own project requires to meet regulations.

Previous DIY Pages:

Decking Timbers  Caring For Your Deck Decking Finishes  Privacy Screens I Privacy Screens II  Privacy Screening Hardwoods  Autumn Paths and Lawns  Insulation Batts Plasterboard  Ventilation - Edmond's Ecofan Blackboards for Children and Home Spring Lawn Care  Shade Sails & Watering  Basic DIY Tools DIY Tools - Power Drills Recycle Your Trampoline into An Air Bed  How to Build Your Own Backyard Cricket Pitch Christmas Lights Displays around House and Garden Summer Mildew - Refresh, Renew How to Fix Things That Drip and Bump in the Night Time To Plant Winter Vegetables in  a Raised Garden Beds Layout Organsing Your Tool Shed  Make Your Own Weathervane Installing A Garden Watering System  Decking Oils  How To Make Garden Compost  How To Winter proof Your Lawn  How to create Shabby Chic effect on Timber Furniture How to Build Your Own Raised Garden Bed  Growing Your Own Winter Vegies  Winter Heating Guide Prepare Your Yard For Winter Eradicating Noxious Weeds From Your Yard How to Fix Furniture Finishes Part I  How to Repair Scratches, Dings, and Dents of Furniture Surfaces - Part II Winter Draughts Fix  Classic Wooden Tool Carrier Spring Garden Checklist Part I  Install Your Own Skylight  Retaining Walls for Saving Soil and New Spring Garden Beds  Summer Salad Garden  Native Plant Garden for A Fairy Arbour Renewing Short Flight of Exterior Stairs Deck Maintenance DIY Summer Tasks You Can Do In Time to Get to the Beach  Garden Ponds for Attracting Birdlife, Dragonflies and for the Soothing Sounds of Water  Salt Air: Maintenance and Protection Creating an Outdoor Dining Arbour, Gazebo or Patio - Part I Creating an Outdor Dining Arbour, Gazebo or Patio Part II  Autumn Garden Tasks  Autumn DIY Jobs: Waterproof Your Home Checklist  Dealing With Dampness Inside the Home  Fixing Your Fence  Repairing and Replacing Damaged Decking boards  DIY Toy Box and Snow Globes: School Holidays Fun - Winter 2015  DIY Wooden Toy Cars and Perfect Painted Flowerpots: School Holiday Fun - Winter 2015  Shoring Up an Under House Earth Bank – Installing a Basic Retaining Wall  DIY One Shelf Sideboard  Early Spring 2015 Garden Care Salad Garden For Children  Keeping Your Garden and Home Cool in Hot Weather  Classic Beach Garden and Camping Chairs 3 Portable Versions Anyone Can Make DIY Outdoor Furniture Mark I: Park Benches for Your Garden Make Your Own Scooter or Skateboard: Summer 2016 Fun  How to Install a Solid Core Door and Door Furniture Summer Garden Jobs: Pruning A Hedge  How to Make A Swing Chair - With A Frame for Garden Setting  Garden Jobs for March to Make A Beautiful and Healthy Spring  Keeping Outdoor Nooks Warm During Cooler Months  Children’s Step Stool with Storage  Stop Winter Rain Lawn Loss and Soil Erosion on Slopes  DIY Garden Shed: Part 1 of 4 - Base  DIY Garden Shed: Part 2 - Framing Walls  DIY Garden Shed: Part 2b - Gable Roof Framing  Garden Shed Part 3: Roof Installation  DIY Garden Shed: Weather- boards - Door And Window Installation And Paint Finish DIY Coffee Table With Chessboard Inlay  Spring Gardening: Feeding Your Soil And Plants - What Works For Each Plant  DIY Sandstone Flagging Parking Area - Platform  DIY Pre-Summer Checklist For A Safe Home   Summer Spruce Up: Interior Paint Tips and Three easy steps to rejuvenate your timber deck The Perfect BBQ Garden Setting DIY Water Wise Garden   DIY Side Gates  DIY Storm Preparation And Home Protection  One To Two Day DIY Weekend Spruce Ups  Vegepods For Autumn Planting + Easy To Make Lego Table Or Student Desk That Can Be Dismantled + Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Online Store   Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Great New Mona Vale Store: Still In Bassett Street - number 73  Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 New Mona Vale Store: The Greenlife Garden Centre  Go Outside And Play: Creating Garden Spaces To Connect Children With Nature DIY Plasterboard Repair DIY Dolls House Or Garage Or Boatshed  DIY Child's Waggon - or use as a large planter mover DIY Bathroom Refresh: Zing For Spring  Tips for Growing a Native Garden FireCrunch, Australian Developed Fire-proof, Sustainable, Durable and Reliable Building Board Now Available at Johnson Bros. at Mona Vale and Narrabeen School Holidays DIY Ideas for Children: Little Vegetables Garden, Swing, Windchimes Bushfire Season Preparation 2017: Home and Outdoor Areas  Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Trade Centre at Mona Vale + Issue No 1 of Mitre 10’s inSITE Magazine for Tradies and Handymen  Preparing Al Fresco Areas for Christmas Get-Togethers and Summer Visitors  Summer De-bug; Mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches and ants - how to keep the outdoors insects where they belong DIY Summer Projects: Install A Fountain Or Water Feature  Late Summer and Early Autumn Projects: A Shed For All Storage Solutions + Garden Tasks + Keeping Our Waterways Clean  Autumn Plantings for Winter Harvests  2018 Paintback Collection Event: Johnson Bros Mitre 10 Mona Vale Saturday, April 7  Reducing Ticks in Your Garden: Garden care, Plants that Repel, What to Wear Outdoors


John and Bob Johnson - The Johnson Brothers Profile  John William Alfred Johnson - The Eulogies for those who could not attend Mass

Australia's Prime Minister Visits Mackellar - Informal Afternoon Tea with Hon. Malcolm Turnbull October 2016