Real World Gardener Where Have All the House Sparrows Gone?

September 19th, 2018


Common House Sparrow


Did you know that the House Sparrow is actually a finch?

But when was the last time you saw a house sparrow?

Can’t remember or do you have plenty in your district?



Funny how there were plenty of house sparrows around and then suddenly you realise, yeah, I haven’t seen one or even heard one for years.”

Maybe that’s a good thing?

Let’s find out .

I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons from

PLAY: House Sparrow_12th September_ 2018

The male House Sparrow has a black face, and black throat that extends down the chest during the mating season. Otherwise, Sparrows are a combination of black, grey and brown; easily missed.

Sparrows eat seeds, insects, fruit, berries and food scraps, which is quite a flexible diet.

Yet, Sparrows have seen a worldwide decline in the last decade.

In fact House sparrow numbers have declined so dramatically in recent years that the species is now included on the Birds of Conservation Concern Red List.


House Sparrow in the former nest of a House Martin

A recent study in open-access journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution found that compared to sparrows living in the country, urban-dwelling sparrows showed clear signs of stress linked to the toxic effects of air pollution and an unhealthy diet.

Maybe one factor. Another is competition for habitat and nesting sites; changes in the amount of insects when they're feeding their young.

If you have any questions about house sparrows either for me or for Holly why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Real World Gardener Little Corella is \Wildlife in Focus

May 17th, 2018


Little Corella

Some people love them some people hate these mostly white birds that arrive in huge numbers.

They're one of those birds that like to skid to rooves of silos, or swing around telegraph wires or the blades of a windmill.



When you see them in flight they do look like a few other similar birds.

Can you tell the difference between a Little Corella, and a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo?

Let’s find out about these naughty birds. 

I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons Manager of

The Corellas are still a biggish bird, measuring around 42cm long and weighing just under 500 grams.

The distinction is the long beak and the pale pink section between the eye and the beak called the "laws."

The also have a bluey coloured eye ring.

The West Australian newspaper writes

“White corellas will soon outnumber seagulls and will be one of the State's most serious animal pests, causing damage to homes and many businesses, according to wildlife experts.

Department of Environment and Conservation chief zoologist Peter Mawson said the rapidly expanding numbers of the Eastern States native, introduced in WA after pets were released into the wild, more than doubled in the Perth area each year and would continue to do so.”

Rather dramatic and perhaps overstated.

The beak is the dead giveaway if you’re looking up at a flock.

If you have any questions either for me or Holly, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Blubonnet Parrot in Wildlife in Focus

April 13th, 2018


Blubonnet: Northiella haematogaster


If I say this next segment is about parrots, do you go through a very short checklist?

This checklist might include, the Sulphur Crested, several Galahs, King Parrot, and Gang Gang Cockatoos.


Northiella haematogaster

You may even realise that Rosellasand Lorikeets are in the parrot category.

But what about this next parrot with a very different name?

Let’s find out about it

I'm talking wiht Dr Holly Parsons, Manager of


The parrots species have short, powerful bills that they use for cracking seeds, but some of them also feed on fruit, nectar, underground plant stems, and wood-boring insect larvae.

Blue bonnets have not only similar calls to other parrots but fly in a similar way as well.

From Graeme Chapman’s website comes this information “They have a particular liking for areas where sheoaks such as belah or bulloak (genus Allocasuarina) grow, mainly because these trees provide them with their preferred nesting sites.

Where available, they prefer a narrow split in the main trunk of a tree which opens out into a hollow that often continues down to (or even below!) ground level.

It is amazing just how narrow a split they can fit into and such sites are not uncommon in quite small trees such as Myall (an Acacia) out in desert regions.

These narrow nest entrances would provide good protection from the larger of the predatory goannas.”

If you have any questions either for me or for Holly, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener 31st January 2018

February 11th, 2018


Sula leucogaster Brown Booby

It’s not just seagulls that frequent our shores but Australia is home to one of the world’s most spectacular divers.

This bird is seen around harbours, river mouths and the like where they are partial to roosting on moored boats, channel markers and other structures.

I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons, Manager of


Brown Booby

Let’s find out about it .



Their flight is fairly distinctive - alternating between a few flaps and a glide, often low over the water. 

Did you know that the Brown Booby can accelerate up to 90 kph?

The booby’s sleek and velvety profile serves a double purpose, for not only is it aerodynamically adapted for speed in the air, but it is also aquadynamically adapted for swiftly penetrating the surface waters of the ocean.

"In Australia, the Brown Booby is found from Bedout Island in Western Australia, around the coast of the Northern Territory to the Bunker Group of islands in Queensland with occasional reports further south in New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria (Marchant & Higgins 1990). The species is reported further south to Tweed Heads, NSW, and to near Onslow, Western Australia and may be becoming more common in these areas." (ref Birds in Backyards.)

If you have any questions about the Brown Booby, either for me or for Holly or have some information to share, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Bar Tailed Godwit is Wildlife in Focus

August 31st, 2017



Bar Tailed Godwit.


How well do you know Australian Shore birds?



Did you know that even though a bird is migratory, it’s considered an Australian bird because it spends quite a number of months on our shores? 

Even though it's a largish bird, weighing around 190g, flying thousands of kilometres from the breeding ground in Siberia and Norther Scandanavia to shores in Australia and New Zealand is no mean feat.

Did you know that when they’re in Australia they look quite different to what they do when they’re overseas.

So let’s find out more about the Bar Tailed Godwit .

I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons from

PLAY :Bar Tailed Godwit_23rd August_2017

You'll find these birds in Australia now, feeding up so that they can make that long journey back to their breeding ground in March-April. 

These birds will then head north, stopping off in Korea, China or Japan, ending up in Alaska which is their breeding ground.

Holly mentioned one bird that was tagged called E7

E7 was tracked as taking the longest non-stop flight of any bird, flying 11,500 kms from Alaska to New Zealand.


Sadly, thousands of Bar Tailed Godwits' don’t make it back because of the lack of places to stop to re-fuel.

So if you do see these birds along the shore, please don’t release you dog to chase them away.

If you have any questions about Bar Tailed Godwits why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener NEW SERIES Mass Planting for Large and Small Gardens in Design Elements

August 17th, 2017



Mass Planting Series

Mass planting for large and small gardens part 1

Would you think that mass planting a garden would be something easy to do?

On the surface it sounds easy; just pick a couple of types of plants that you like and away you go, would that be right?


Mass planting for large gardens: Scampston, England photo M Cannon

The answer is no, because visually you might end up with such a boring garden as to be exasperating.

Have you heard the rule “ the greater amount of texture you use the louder your garden reads visually?”

Let’s find out about this wonderful rule.


PLAY: Mass Planting_large gardens_9th August 2017


That was Peter Nixon, Director of

Mass%2Bplanting-Paul%2BUrquhart.jpgIf you have a large expanse of garden with all the same colour green , the same leaf shape and the same texture, the garden will be homogenous and even boring.


You'll be asking "Where's my beautiful garden?"


Find plants that you like but try and like ones with different leaf shapes, colours and textures when you’re doing planting on a biggish scale.


Peter suggests as an example of texture and leaf contrast, Poa Eskdale with Opuntia Burbank Spineless.


If you want mass planting to hide the fence, try

Viburnum odoratissium "Dense Fence," or Quick Fence.


As Peter says, even if it’s a small garden, don’t put lots of little plants in, but less plants that are bigger works better.


Real World Gardener Little Egret is Wildlife in Focus

June 16th, 2017


Little Egret

Egretta garzetta

Australia has plenty of water birds but do you think of our waterbirds as hanging around the seashore?

That’s probably true of a lot of water birds but others prefer inland areas where there’s plenty of water as in creeks, rivers and lakes.




Egretta garzetta

In fact some water birds like open areas with shallow fresh water while others go for coastal swamps, shallow seasonal meadows and marshes, stony rise lowlands and large saline lakes.

There's more than one Egret that lives in Australia, so how to tell which it is that you're looking at.

they look similar so it is quite confusing.

Which one is white with black legs?


Let’s find out more.. I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons, Manager of Birds in Backyards.



All Egrets tend to be white with long legs and a long beak.

The distinguishing features is that the Little Egret has a black bill with dark grey-black legs.

Both the Cattle Egret and the Little Egret get flumes on the back of their head when they're breeding.

The colour of the Cattle Egret's plumes are orangey-yellow, but the Little Egret's plumes are white.


Breeding plume of Little Egret

It's so important to retain Australia's wetlands.

Wetlands support a rich diversity of plants and animals including a large number of waterbirds that depend on them for food, shelter and breeding.

The Little Egret hunts for fish and other small water creatures in shallow water and may be found in the company of other wading birds, but rarely with others of its own species.

If you have any questions about the little egret, or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener amazing Olive Backed Oriole is Wildlife in Focus

April 24th, 2017


Olive Backed Oriole Oriolus sagittatus


What would you pick for the top songbird in Australia or perhaps just in your district?

Perhaps the Magpie, or Butcher bird, or for those who are a bit more savvy with bird identification and bird calls, would you pick the Figbird? Australia does make the top 40 songbirds in the world, but would you have picked this next one?



Olive Backed Oriole (Oriolus saggitatus) Picture of the Olive-backed Oriole has been licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution.


Olive Backed Oriole (Oriolus saggitatus) Picture of the Olive-backed Oriole has been licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution.


Did you know that not only does the Oriole like to live in woodlands and rainforests, but leafy urban areas that plenty of trees.

You may have heard the call and not realised what bird it the call belonged to.


Let’s find out.  I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons, Manager of Birds in Backyards.

As Holly mention, the Oriole is found along coastal and near inland strips in northern and eastern Australia from Broome WA, to the south-east of South Australia; plus around Adelaide.


These birds are really good at hiding themselves especially the fact that they can throw their calls and mimic other birds such as magpies.


All in all, making it a challenge to find them, but surprisingly they can be found in urban areas that are leafy and green.


Listen out for the "orry-orry-oriole" call, which is their genuine call.


If you have any questions about the Olive Backed Oriole or have some photos to share, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Red Backed Fairy Wren is Wildlife in Focus

March 16th, 2017

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at  and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.


The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.


Red Backed Fairy Wren and Superb Fairy Wren


This little bird is the smallest of the wren species in Australia.

In fact it’s smaller than a sparrow and because it’s so small, that it’s called the Elfin wren.

Red Backed Fairy Wren

The males of course have all the colour being a glossy black with a scarlet patch, whilst the females are brown.

They can't be mistaken for a sparrow because they're smaller and have that characteristic pointing up tail, bouncing around like little ping pong balls.

 Let’s find out what’s great about this bird.


Smaller and shyer than the Superb Fairy Wren , the Red Backed Fairy Wren has a similar call.

Female Red Backed Fairy Wren, not red at all.

But most of us won’t see this Fairy Wren because Red-backed Fairy-wrens are essentially birds of Australia's north where they are mainly restricted to the more humid zones closer to the coast.

In eastern Australia they do extend south down the NSW north coast to near Newcastle and in W.A. south to Cape Keraudren, again along the coast.

Apparently they’re common around the outskirts of Brisbane and Darwin.

If you have any questions about Red Back Fairy Wrens, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Real World Gardener Beautiful Brown Gerygone in Wildlife in Focus

December 2nd, 2016


Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at  and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.


The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.


Brown GerygoneBrown-Gerygone-John-Gunning.jpg

Belonging to the family of Scrubwrens means this tiny bird is very hard to identify if you see it flitting about in the bush. 

In fact if you were on a guided walk you might be told that they belong to the group SBB or small brown birds. 

Did you know though that this particular bird builds a truly unusual nest and you can recognise the call if you think of a little phrase, "which is it?"

Let’s find out what it is.. I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons Manager of www.birdsinbackyards

PLAY: Brown Gerygone_23rd November 2016 


Gerygone is pronounced Jerr-Ig-O-Knee  

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