Shared habitat: Explore your own backyard

You most likely know the people that live with you, but do you know the others who share your home? Step outside the door and there’s a whole world bursting with life, just waiting to be discovered by you.


We’re often cut off from the natural world when we’re at home, but our family is bigger than we appreciate. We share our environment with lots of other creatures. Get to know the birds, bees and butterflies in your backyard, and you’ll realise you you’re never alone.


Birds


A variety of birds probably visit you on a regular basis. They might even live on your property, or at least nest there every year. The grandest personalities own your land and are generously sharing their space with you.

A blackbird keeping her chicks warm.
A blackbird keeping her chicks warm.

Who you see will depend on where you live. The beautiful rainbow lorikeets frequently add a splash of colour to Australian backyards. They have consistently been the most commonly sighted bird species in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count since 2014, thanks to the growing popularity of native gardens. These entertaining birds are often spotted in large flocks; during twilight hours, their gathering sounds like some birdy version of happy hour. They are normally attracted to nectar-producing native flowers, but don’t expect these peckish birds to spare those ripening fruits.

A rainbow lorikeet devouring an apple.
A rainbow lorikeet devouring an apple.

COVID-19 lockdowns have deprived many people of the opportunity to lose the self in magical forests, enjoy breathtaking hikes and savour the beautiful outdoors. But don’t overlook the treasures of the humble backyard.yards of he selfeither. Watch carefully, and you’ll slowly become familiar with the routines and adventures of your feathered friends.

An European Starling guarding its territory
Stories are always unfolding in your backyard

Keep watching and you’ll see stories unfold. Birds will defend their territory, even taking on larger and more aggressive species. Males will try to woo the females during breeding season. Birds will carefully collect grass and sticks to build their nests. And if you’ve got a veggie patch, you’re probably all too familiar with the little brats digging up your garden for worms.


Insects


Let’s not forget the less boastful. We are surrounded by the weird and wonderful, although not everyone likes to announce their presence to the world.


Insects don’t appear randomly. The critters you attract will often depend on the plants and flowers growing in your backyard. That means every home can tell a different story.


Butterflies bring elegance and grace to our gardens, aside from their pollination favours. They come in many varieties, showing off striking colours, sizes and patterns. Vegetable gardeners will be quite familiar with the white cabbage butterflies, which are grown up versions of those little green caterpillars that munch up your produce before you can get to them. There’s much irony in seeing those tiny destructors transform into garden angels with time.

Small white cabbage butterfly and caterpillar
Small white cabbage butterfly and caterpillar.

When thinking of pollinators, bees create quite a buzz. Look closely and you’ll often see pollen dust sprinkled over their hair and face. While most people will be used to seeing the European honeybees, it’s quite delightful to spot the native varieties in your garden. The blue-banded bee is a beautiful example, which some experts believe are attracted to blue and purple flowers.

Honeybee covered in pollen
Honeybee covered in pollen

Spiders, ants, ladybugs, snails, beetles, moths, crickets, dragonflies — the list is endless. Amazing in different ways, these small creatures have a mighty impact on our ecosystems. It would take more than a lifetime to understand them all, but whatever you manage to observe and learn in your own backyard will captivate you.

Damselfly
A damselfly

Explore your own backyard


COVID-19 lockdowns have deprived many people the opportunity to lose themselves in magical forests, enjoy breathtaking hikes and savour the beautiful outdoors. But don’t overlook the treasures of the humble backyard.


During these challenging times, it is comforting to be reminded that we live on a beautiful planet surrounded by diverse forms of life. So the next time you’re looking for company, just step outside and get to know your co-residents.

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