Want noisy miners to be less despotic? Think twice before filling your garden with nectar-rich  flowers

Noisy miners are complicated creatures. These Australian native honeyeaters live in large cooperative groups, use alarm calls to target specific predators, and sometimes help raise the young of other miners. But they’re perhaps best known for their aggressive and coordinated attacks on other birds – a behaviour known as “mobbing”.

We conducted a study investigating some of the possible factors that influence mobbing. We were interested in whether access to human food left on plates at cafes, or a high nectar supply thanks to planted gardens, might give urban miners extra energy and time to mob other species more often. We also examined whether miners were more aggressive towards some species over others.

Our study, published in the journal Emu – Austral Ornithology, found it wasn’t cafes with access to sugar-rich food that led to more miner aggression. In fact, gardens were where we recorded the highest amount of aggressive behaviour.

Understanding mobbing is important, because this behaviour can drive out other birds and reduce diversity. Smaller birds with a similar diet to noisy miners are particularly vulnerable.

Want noisy miners to be less despotic? Think twice before filling your garden with nectar-rich  flowers

Noisy miners can drive out other birds and reduce diversity. Photo by Mark Broadhurst/Pexels, CC BY

What we did

The noisy miner’s preferred habitat is along the edges of open eucalypt forest, including cleared land and urban fringes. Their numbers have grown in recent decades, presenting a significant conservation problem.

We know from previous research that urban noisy miners tend to be more aggressive compared with rural populations.

But to examine mobbing behaviour more closely, we placed museum taxidermies (stuffed animals) of different species of birds in three different types of habitat around Canberra:

    urban cafes with lots of food leftovers

    urban gardens that had higher-than-usual supplies of nectar

    bush areas more typical of “natural” miner habitat.

For each habitat, we then presented the resident noisy miners with three different types of museum taxidermy models of birds:

    food competitors with a similar diet to miners, both of the same size (musk lorikeets) and a much smaller species (spotted pardalote)

    potential predators, including a dangerous species that preys on miners (brown goshawk) and a species that robs nests but poses less of a risk to adult miners (pied currawong)

    neutral species, meaning a bird that does not prey upon nor compete with miners for food (in our study, we used a model of an eastern rosella).

We wanted to see how miners responded to these “intruders” in various settings. We also set up a speaker nearby to broadcast alarm calls, to see how miners reacted.

Want noisy miners to be less despotic? Think twice before filling your garden with nectar-rich  flowers

Noisy miners are known for their aggressive and coordinated attacks on other birds – a behaviour known as ‘mobbing’. Shutterstock

What we found

We found interesting differences in how miners responded to our taxidermy models and the broadcasted alarm calls.

Noisy miners exhibited aggressive behaviours for a much longer time in gardens and cafés in comparison to natural bush areas.

Surprisingly, however, access to sugar-rich food from cafes didn’t yield the most aggressive behaviour. Rather, we recorded the highest levels of aggressive behaviour near garden sites.

Nectar-rich plants (such as grevilleas and bottlebrushes) are attractive to birds with a sweet tooth, and miners are no exception. Newer cultivars flower for longer, meaning miners living in our gardens may have access to an almost year-round source of food.

Ready access to these flowering shrubs may affect aggression by providing more time, energy or reward to noisy miners defending these uber-rich resources.

The type of model presented also impacted miner response.

More miners were attracted to an area and mobbed the subject for longer when the model was of a predator.

Miners showed even greater aggression to food competitor models, however. They were more likely to physically strike food competitor models with a peck or swoop compared to predator models.

Want noisy miners to be less despotic? Think twice before filling your garden with nectar-rich  flowers

Noisy miners are often drawn to cafes. Jade Fountain

What can gardeners do with these findings?

Our research shows the importance of considering how gardens – whether in back yards, in parks or new housing estates – can affect local ecosystems, including bird behaviour. Previous studies have drawn a link between the types of plants humans choose to plant and the local mix of bird species.

Want noisy miners to be less despotic? Think twice before filling your garden with nectar-rich  flowers

Grevilleas look lovely but how does their presence affect miner behaviour? Shutterstock

To reduce the risk of creating a perfect habitat for despotic miners in your garden, aim to:

    plant multi-layered levels in your garden – that means including ground cover, small shrubs, medium shrubs and trees to provide shelter at different heights for various birds and animals

    consider planting plenty of dense shrubs with small flowers to attract insects and provide shelter for small birds

    use a mix of nectar-rich and non-flowering shrubs and grasses (instead of focusing too heavily on flowering plants)

    try to avoid planting too many exotic species; opt instead for native plants local to your area and suited to the climate, as these benefit native plants and animals whilst minimising benefits to aggressive noisy miners.

News Related


Inflation Reduction Act's expanded biofuel incentives raise concerns about fraud

The Inflation Reduction Act signed into law by President Joe Biden in August includes historic investments to combat climate change. It may also open new avenues for fraud by expanding ... Read more »

Small communities could be buying, selling and saving money on electric power right now – here’s how

Globally, the electricity sector is shifting from large, centralised grids powered by fossil fuels to smaller and smarter renewable local networks. One area of strong interest is “energy arbitrage”, which ... Read more »

Lizard in your luggage? We’re using artificial intelligence to detect wildlife trafficking

Blue-tongue lizards and sulphur-crested cockatoos are among the native animals frequently smuggled overseas. While the number of live animals seized by the Australian Government has tripled since 2017, the full ... Read more »

Termites love global warming – the pace of their wood munching gets significantly faster in hotter weather

When we consider termites, we may think of the danger they can pose to our houses once they settle in and start eating wood. But in fact, only about 4% ... Read more »

Here's Why Everyone Should Start Turning the Lights Off When Not Home

Hint: Because it'll save you money. Read more »

S.Africa teens build solar train as power cuts haunt commuters

Photovoltaic panels fitted on rooftop, the blue-and-white train moves on an 18-metre long testing track in Soshanguve township. For years, students in a South African township have seen their parents ... Read more »

Chinese Scientists Are Using Ethylene and Coal to Power Hypersonic Travels

Chinese researchers claim that by using an air-breathing engine that burns a mixture of ethylene and coal powder, they can significantly reduce the cost of commercial hypersonic flights, as reported first ... Read more »

Best Generators Deals for 2022: Save Up to $600 on Small, Midsized and Large Generators

Find deals on the best generators to power your RV, apartment or home. Read more »

The Best Energy-Saving Smart Home Gadgets to Help You Save on Utility Bills

Make your home smarter and more environmentally friendly with these products. Read more »

EU approves up to $5.2 billion in public funding for hydrogen projects

Part of a hydrogen-powered train photographed in Germany on Aug. 24, 2022. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed support for hydrogen during her State of the Union address ... Read more »

Business energy price cap gives startups breathing space

The UK government has unveiled a multi-billion-pound package to cap wholesale energy costs for businesses this winter in a move set to benefit the millions of startups and small businesses ... Read more »

We helped fill a major climate change knowledge gap, thanks to 130,000-year -old sediment in Sydney lakes

Plants capture around half the carbon we emit by burning fossil fuels, making them a crucial part of mitigating climate change. But carbon is often released back into the atmosphere ... Read more »

Tesla Battery Responsible for Fire at Storage Site, Says PG&E

A Tesla Megapack battery has just caught fire within a key storage facility located in California. This follows a recent Tesla Megapack that also caught fire in Geelong, Australia, last ... Read more »

Half of Western Sydney foodbowl land may have been lost to development in just 10 years

More and more farming land is being lost to other land uses such as housing on the outskirts of our cities. But how much land is being lost? And why ... Read more »

Pakistan’s floods are a disaster – but they didn’t have to be

The devastating flooding affecting Pakistan has killed over 1,300 people, damaged over 1.7 million homes, and is disrupting food production. Over 33 million people have been affected so far. The ... Read more »

This Small Home Upgrade Could Save You Big Money On Heating

Keep your house nice and warm this fall without the high energy bill. Here's how. Read more »

Pixelization of solar panels to beautify building facades

Different color designs with pixelization method for multi-story houses. Credit: Solar Energy (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.solener.2021.06.079 Buildings consume around one-third of the world’s energy and are responsible for 40% of greenhouse ... Read more »

In a win for Traditional Owners, Origin is walking away from the Beetaloo Basin. But the fight against fracking is not over

What a difference six months makes. Before the federal election, the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory was to have spearheaded Australia’s “gas-led recovery”. But Origin Energy this week announced ... Read more »

Young cold-blooded animals are suffering the most as Earth heats up, research finds

Climate change is making heatwaves worse. Many people have already noticed the difference – and so too have other animals. Sadly, research by myself and colleagues has found young animals, ... Read more »

Goldman says copper demand is about to surge. Here are the stocks it expects to benefit

Copper demand is set to surge, Goldman Sachs says — and supply is unlikely to keep up. The investment bank has named a number of metal stocks it says will ... Read more »

Electric planes are coming: Short-hop regional flights could be running on batteries in a few years

Electric planes might seem futuristic, but they aren’t that far off, at least for short hops. Two-seater Velis Electros are already quietly buzzing around Europe, electric sea planes are being ... Read more »

Climate change threatens up to 100% of trees in Australian cities, and most urban species worldwide

To anyone who has stepped off a hot pavement into a shady park, it will come as little surprise that trees (and shrubs) have a big cooling effect on cities. ... Read more »

Earth harbours 20,000,000,000,000,000 ants – and they weigh more than wild birds and mammals combined

Have you ever wondered exactly how many ants live on Earth? Possibly not, but it’s certainly a question we’ve asked ourselves. Our research published today provides an approximate answer. We ... Read more »

High Electric Bills? This Super-Easy Habit Will Cut the Cost

It's not hard to start saving money on your energy costs right now. Read more »

'Artificial Blowhole' Successfully Generated Renewable Energy After Completing Its 1-Year Test

Another source of renewable energy has been put to the test by functioning for a year and so far, the results have come back with good news. The “Artificial Blowhole” ... Read more »

Chinese Researchers Plan to Use Triboelectric Nanogenerator to Produce Energy from Sea Waves

A team in China has released new research on nanogenerators to generate enough power to make devices more efficient for wave power, as reported by Interesting Engineering. (Photo : SAM ... Read more »

From crumbling rock art to exposed ancestral remains, climate change is ravaging our precious Indigenous heritage

Climate change is rapidly intensifying. Amid the chaos and damage it wreaks, many precious Indigenous heritage sites in Australia and around the world are being destroyed at an alarming rate. ... Read more »

Why ‘best before’ food labelling is not best for the planet or your budget

UK supermarkets have removed “best before” dates on thousands of fresh food products in an effort to reduce food waste. One of the major supermarket chains, Sainsbury’s, is replacing these ... Read more »

Dugongs and turtles are starving to death in Queensland seas – and La Niña’s floods are to blame

To rescue a turtle, University of the Sunshine Coast PhD candidate Caitlin Smith half-swam, half-crawled across mud on an inner tube. She tied a harness around its chest and front ... Read more »

This Quick Thermostat Tweak Will Slash Your High Electric Bills

Even though it's almost fall, you might well use your AC for several more weeks. Read more »

Save Big on Heating Costs With This Home Upgrade

A heat pump can help you save money warming your house this winter. Here's how. Read more »

Best Portable Air Conditioner Deals: Prices as Low as $30

Keep cool and save some money with these great air conditioner deals. Read more »

Lithium-ion batteries: One size does not fit all in application or in assessment

A review paper by a Tianjin University of Technology research team used various advanced electron microscopy and associate characterization techniques to clarify two structure-based mechanisms of lithium-ion batteries. Credit: Nano ... Read more »

Australia Builds Nuclear-Powered Submarines Despite Criticism from China

The next step in the security collaboration known as Aukus, which China has vehemently opposed, will see Australia expand its industrial base and skilled workforce to assist in building and ... Read more »

2022’s supercharged summer of climate extremes: How global warming and La Niña fueled disasters on top of disasters

There’s an old joke about the fellow who has his left foot in a bucket of ice water and the right in a bucket of hot water, so that his ... Read more »

We may be underestimating just how bad carbon-belching SUVs are for the climate – and for our health

Australia’s love for fuel-hungry and fuel-inefficient SUVs is hampering our ability to bring transport emissions down. SUVs make up half of all new car sales last year, a National Transport ... Read more »

China Uses Nuclear Fusion to Produce Clean Energy by 2028

China aims to produce unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion by 2028, according to Interesting Engineering. The biggest pulsed-power plant will be built in Chengdu, Sichuan province. (Photo : STR/AFP ... Read more »

Nearly 30% of Australia’s emissions come from industry. Tougher rules for big polluters is a no-brainer

Australia’s historic climate law passed the Senate last week and enshrined an economy-wide target to reduce emissions. But an important measure to reduce Australia’s industrial emissions is still up for ... Read more »

Ever heard of ocean forests? They’re larger than the Amazon and more productive than we thought

Amazon, Borneo, Congo, Daintree. We know the names of many of the world’s largest or most famous rainforests. And many of us know about the world’s largest span of forests, ... Read more »

Here's How the Inflation Reduction Act Will Save You Thousands for Energy Efficiency Upgrades

A bunch of money for home energy projects is about to be unlocked. Read more »
Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network