Thousands of hectares of grassy woodland have vanished under roads and houses; that habitat is lost forever but the capital is far from bereft of wildlife. Nature finds a foothold almost anywhere, including the toughest cities, but even beyond that Canberra is special. From one of the hills in summer the scene below us seems dominated not by houses, but an urban forest of trees. Moreover hills still with their original vegetation are dotted throughout the suburbs, forming the unique reservoir of wildlife that is Canberra Nature Park.

Native plantings flourish in gardens throughout suburbia, providing important food and shelter. Many species have also adapted to some exotic plants; Gang-gangs utilise Roman cypress seed cones in place of those of related native Callitris pines, and currawongs, bowerbirds and many parrots switch from native berries to exotic ones when they’re offered. Many birds which not long ago went into the mountains to nest now breed in Canberra.

Water in bird baths and garden ponds or from sprinklers makes summer much easier for a range of animals from birds to kangaroos to lizards and insects. Even inside, spiders help keep silverfish and cockroach numbers down. In the garden big orbweb spiders spin their amazing edifices at night, dismantling them and eating the precious silk in the morning. In the vegie garden spiders, wasps, carnivorous beetles and birds hunt caterpillars and other garden pests. Birds are always overhead in the daytime, and bats at night.

Suburbia lives.

Click on a thumbnail to further explore this habitat.