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Australian bird habitats: Scrub/shrubs & scrub birds

Description of habitat

This page describes scrubland, brush or shrubland, which are often used synomymously. Scrubland is an area with low, often sparse and/or stunted vegetation. This sparsity can either be permanent, e.g. in semi-arid environments, or temporary, e.g. after the passage of a hot bushfire through forest or woodland.

Tall scrub is defined to have a top layer of 2-4 m high. Tall scrubland is often dominated by mulga trees (acacia aneura) or various types of wattles or casuarina. When the crowns overlap each other, it is called "closed" scrub, if there are gaps between plants, it is called "open" scrub.

Shrubs are defined to be less than 2 metres tall. Low shrubland is often dominated by Atriplex (saltbush) or Maireana (bluebush). "Open" shrubland is defined as sparsely vegetated shrubland, where plants are well apart from one another.

Scrub and/or shrubs can also be found at high altitude in alpine envrionments.

One particular kind of scrubland, "heath", which is usually found on poor and/or acidic soil, is presented separately.

Photos

Below we display examples of various types of scrub and shrubland, with bird species regularly found in them.

Closed scrub

Bird species found in this type of habitat or plant

This is not necessarily a complete list. We display here some examples of bird species found by us in this kind of habitat or plant. Hover your cursor on thumbnails to see names of species; click on thumbnail to go to the page describing the species.

After the passage of a bushfire, in the absence of a high forest canopy this area is dominated by wattles, casuarinas and several types of bushes and grass; this photo was taken in northern inland NSW, on the northern edge of the "Pilliga scrub"

Open scrub

Bird species found in this type of habitat or plant

This is not necessarily a complete list. We display here some examples of bird species found by us in this kind of habitat or plant. Hover your cursor on thumbnails to see names of species; click on thumbnail to go to the page describing the species.

Large parts of Gundabooka NP near Bourke, NSW, are dominated by Mulga scrub

Open scrub in a semi-arid (at the time almost arid) environment in the southern Gammon Ranges, SA

Open scrub in a semi-arid environment around a gorge in Kalbarri National Park, WA

Example of a bird in scrub: female Superb Fairy-wren in a briarbush (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Low shrubland

Bird species found in this type of habitat or plant

This is not necessarily a complete list. We display here some examples of bird species found by us in this kind of habitat or plant. Hover your cursor on thumbnails to see names of species; click on thumbnail to go to the page describing the species.

Example of a low shrub attacting nectar-eating birds: Urn Heath (Melichrus urceolatus); note, however, that these shrubs are found as undergrowth in eucalypt woodland
[Deriah Forest, NSW, July 2013]

Close-up view of the flowers of Urn Heath (Melichrus urceolatus)
[Deriah Forest, NSW, July 2013]

Silvereye feeding on the blossoms of Urn Heath (Melichrus urceolatus)
[Terry Hie Hie, NSW, June 2013]

Low open shrubland

Bird species found in this type of habitat or plant

This is not necessarily a complete list. We display here some examples of bird species found by us in this kind of habitat or plant. Hover your cursor on thumbnails to see names of species; click on thumbnail to go to the page describing the species.

Low open shrubland in outback NSW in the middle of the 10-year drought from 2000 to 2010

Closed coastal shrubland right behind beach, ontop of a dune

Coastal shrubland visible in the foreground, against the backdrop of Wybung Head (Munmorah SCA, NSW)

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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