Friars' habits inhibit native habitat
Blue skies! Ingham scored an after-flood break today, starting with light cloud and quickly turning mostly to blue sky and fast-drying sunshine. Second major cleanup at the caravan park almost done. Time to think birds. But no time from water blasting and mopping up to get any photographs.
So here's a splash of colour saved from early this year (and a message): Helmeted Friarbird (Philemon buseroides) part-ringed by African tulip tree flowers. The bird's a vocally varied goody, the tree's an infesting pest.
'African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata) is a fast-growing evergreen tree native to tropical Africa. African tulip tree is a Class 3 declared plant under Queensland legislation. Non-invasive native alternatives to the African tulip tree are black bean (Castanospermum australe), wheel of fire (Stenocarpus sinuatus) and flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius).' (Qld govt site).
Just another of a long list of totally unsuitable plants introduced to Australia, often by people who should have known better. Plenty of concern even 100 years back about thoughtless imports. (Not sure too much has changed.)
Most Tyto visitors love the tulip trees, and few show great enthusiasm for mainland Australia's largest honeyeater, no matter how many pleasing short calls (I've just spent 30 minutes seeking apt onomatopoeic formations - and failed entirely) it makes.
Here's the real rub. Those big bare black faces are just made to dive deeply into flowers such as the tulip tree's. As with many pest species, the trees lead friars and other birds to conspire against native revegetation.
Suddenly the picture above seems less sunny, doesn't it?