Wagga Wagga

Biodiversity areas on the core campus, as well as on the farm holdings to the west contain significant remnant communities of Box Gum Woodland and Inland Grey Box. The Charles Sturt University farm and Houlighan's Creek to the west, provide fantastic wildlife/biodiversity corridors on the campus.

The below gallery show cases native fauna and flora species identified on this campus through biodiversity monitoring activities.

Charles Sturt University extends our sincere gratitude to the following talented and very generous photographers for granting permission to publish their amazing images.

Thank you to: Simon B Cotterell, Ian Montgomery birdway.com.au, Jennifer Horsnell, Geoff Burrows, Dr Joanne Connolly, Tim Bergen, Alexandra Knight, David Hunter, Mark Stephenson, Cilla Kinross, Ian Kerr, Roger France and Ken Monson.

Wildflower images are sourced from canberra.naturemapr.org

Flagship Species: Grey-crowned Babbler

Conservation status: vulnerable under the TSC Act.

The Grey-crowned Babbler Pomatostomus temporalis,  is sometimes known as the ‘Yahoo-bird’. This strange name stems from one of the most common calls given by the species. The call is known as ‘antiphonal’, meaning that it is given by two birds almost in unison, with the ‘ya’ part given by the female, closely followed by the ‘hoo’ given by the male. It is so closely co-ordinated that it sounds as though it is being given by a single bird, and it may be repeated for up to 23 times.  The call is regularly heard at the University at Wagga Wagga.

Grey-crowned Babblers occupy open woodlands dominated by mature eucalypts, with regenerating trees, tall shrubs, and an intact ground cover of grass and forbs. They build conspicuous dome-shaped nests and breed co-operatively in sedentary family groups of two to 15 birds.

Habitat requirements – home and food

Grey-crowned Babblers feed on insects and sometimes eat seeds. They forage in groups of two to fifteen birds on the ground among leaf litter, around fallen trees and from the bark of shrubs and trees.

The scattered remnant Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) and White Box (Eucalyptus albens) are found throughout the campus areas and within cropped paddock areas. To the west of the campus there is a large remnant patch of Callitris woodland that integrates into Inland Greybox Woodland on the slopes, and Box-Cypress-pine and open Box Woodlands on alluvial plains. This provides ideal habitat Grey Crowned Babblers as well as Speckled Warblers (also threatened).

Flight is laborious, so birds prefer to hop to the top of a tree and glide down to the next one. Birds are generally unable to cross large open areas. They live in family groups that consist of a breeding pair and young from previous breeding seasons. Usually two to three eggs are laid and incubated by females.

Most members of the group help to build nests, with the primary female contributing the most effort. Two types of nest are built: roost-nests (usually larger and used by the whole group) and brood-nests (for the breeding females), and often old nest sites are renovated and re-used from year to year. The large domed nests are placed in a tree fork 4 m - 7 m high and are made of thick sticks with projections that make a hood and landing platform for the entrance tunnel. The nest chamber is lined with soft grass, bark, wool and feathers. The brooding female (sometimes more than one) is fed by the other group members and all help to feed the nestlings. Larger groups tend to raise more young, and two broods are usually raised per season.

Key threats

  • vegetation clearance and the fragmentation of habitat including removal of dead timber. The species occupies woodlands on fertile soils of plains and undulating terrain. Therefore, Grey-crowned Babbler habitat has been disproportionately cleared for agriculture;
  • isolation of populations in scattered remnants is exacerbated by the apparent reluctance of birds to traverse tracts of cleared land. As reduced family groups, these isolated small populations are vulnerable to extinction;
  • weed invasion;
  • grazing by stock; and
  • increased abundance of competitors (e.g. Noisy Miners) and nest predators (e.g. Pied Currawong and Australian Raven) threaten Babbler foraging efficiency and breeding success.

What Charles Sturt University is doing

A total of approximately 147 hectares at Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga have been identified and mapped as areas of significant conservation value.  These areas were formally ratified in April 2017 as biodiversity zones.  There are nine biodiversity areas totalling 85 hectares and another nine areas on the University Farm totalling 62 hectares. These zones contain remnant communities of Box Gum Woodland and Inland Grey Box. The Farm and Houlighan's Creek provide fantastic wildlife/biodiversity corridors. These areas are managed by an cross-divisional team including Facilities Management, CSU Farm, Faculty of Science and Sustainability at Charles Sturt.

Charles Sturt University is encouraging features of significance for the Grey-crowned Babbler including:

  • large old trees containing hollows
  • large trees, which flower more profusely than younger trees and are of greater value to nectar-feeders and insectivorous species like the Babbler but also for other birds, bats and Squirrel Gliders;
  • areas with native grasses
  • fallen timber
  • presence of a shrub layer, preferably native but including exotic species provide shelter, nesting sites and feeding niches; and
  • rocky outcrops.

Revegetation works

Every year, Charles Sturt University coordinates strategic revegetation works in accordance with the Biodiversity Management Plans as part of Tree Planting Day events. Specialised revegetation works occur across campuses which:

  • increase biodiversity function of a campus biodiversity area (e.g. reduce the loss of species and improve the ecosystem);
  • increase the connectivity of vegetation corridors across the campus;
  • rehabilitate highly disturbed sites;
  • encourages partnerships with staff, students and external community groups including the Wagga Wagga Urban Landcare, Rotary Club, the South Wagga Anglican Church and the local Sikh community;
  • noxious weed removal; and
  • as much as possible, exclusion of introduced species from the biodiversity zones.

How you can help

Participate in activities enhancing the biodiversity zones including:

  • tree planting days on campus
  • early morning biodiversity ‘walk and talk’ events
  • flora and fauna monitoring activities
  • keep pet cats inside at all times, especially at night
  • pick up litter around campus
  • be aware of the important habitat role of hollow trees
  • observe native animals on campus and report to Sustainability at Charles Sturt or  EAGERR anything that stands out
  • observe speed limits and watch out for native animals when driving around campus, especially early in the morning and at dusk.