Backyard Buddies

Photo: Michael Todd

B-mail September 2017

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Yes, Actually, This Is My Natural Colour

You would be forgiven for suspecting the feathers of the male Pink Robin have been artificially enhanced but that spectacular bright pink is all natural.

Widely described as “chubby”, Pink Robins are actually gorgeous fluffy little balls of pink and black, or olive green and pinkish (if they are female) that live quiet lives in dense rainforest gullies, minding their own business and poking around on the ground for their meals of insects and spiders.

Are they really robins? Well, Australian robins are barely related to robins from the northern hemisphere, and are part of the Petroicidae family, which has around 45 species. They were given their name after European settlement. So the Robin part of their name is questionable but they are most certainly Pink.

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Flowers + Spring = Butterflies! 

It doesn’t take a lot of work to make your backyard butterfly -friendly and it is well worth the effort. They are low-maintenance buddies and among the most beautiful sights of Spring. 

First you will need some flowers. The brighter the better – butterflies love pink, purple, red, yellow and orange. Native flowers are just as welcoming as the more obvious gerberas and sunflowers and the nectar is a great food source.

We all need a rest and so do butterflies. Some flat rocks in the sun are perfect but butterflies also like to wallow in damp sand or mud – it’s called mud-puddling. They will drink the moisture and also ingest essential minerals from the soil. A perfect puddle is a tray filled with wet soil with a dip in the middle surrounded by some warm rocks, right next to some flowering plants. Butterfly heaven!

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In Our Big Backyard

Tree Kangaroo

Unless you live in a treehouse in a far north Queensland rainforest, tree kangaroos will not be visiting your backyard.

Only 2 species live in Australia and the best way we can help conserve them is by protecting their rainforest home from clearing or development. Rainforests are not all protected areas or part of National Parks – for example, only about 12% of the Lumholtz's tree kangaroo habitat is protected. That’s not much, is it?

Tree kangaroos are pretty happy up high and mostly eat the leaves and fruit that grow there. They really are kangaroos – part of the Macropod family that kangaroos and wallabies belong to. All kangaroos are thought to once have lived in the trees but millions of years ago, most of them became ground dwellers.

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Help Us Protect Our Vulnerable Native Animals

It is a sad reality that our native wildlife is vulnerable to introduced animals and plants. Many have no natural defence against feral predators and are already struggling to survive with habitat destruction, depleted food sources and climate change increasingly challenging their populations.

You can help make a difference by supporting the FNPW appeal to raise funds for programs that prevent and control introduced species, and protect native animals and their environment.

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Environmental Education Is the New Black

Conservation is certain to be a concern for the next generations and science education will be a big part of the learning curve. If you are an experienced teaching professional or new to education and wanting to gain some knowledge and qualifications, Objectif Sciences International Training might be for you.

For more information about the course and to register, visit