How to go wild in your own backyard
After the untold decimation of native species in Black Summer bushfires, wildlife warrior Robert Irwin has encouraged Australians to discover wild animals close to home.
"I think kids would be very surprised to find just how many animals are in your backyard," Robert, 17, said.
The passionate conservationist, already an award-winning wildlife photographer, suggested families keep their eyes peeled for ground-dwelling species like bandicoots, which are sometimes spotted in bushland backyards. Bats, possums and blue-tongue lizards are common even in urban areas.
"If you take the time to look around under every log and on every leaf, you'll find a huge array of smaller creatures - little jumping spiders, frogs and skinks and, if you're lucky, maybe even an echidna or two," Robert said.
With the release of Urban Wildlife in Your Backyard, Thursday's book giveaway as part of The Great Australian Wildlife Collection when you buy the newspaper, Robert said there were many ways to encourage wildlife to adopt your home. And he should know: he lives at Australia Zoo with mum Terri and sister Bindi.
"If you can devote a little time each day into making your home more animal-friendly, you will eventually end up with your own animal habitat," he said.
"Make your home pollinator friendly. By planting more flowering plants in your garden, you can encourage important insects like butterflies or native bees.
"Placing bird baths in your backyard, (creating) plenty of spots to roost and planting tree species that birds can feed from … immediately make your yard more attractive to birds."
A compost mound is another sustainable method of enticing smaller creatures into your backyard. Such extra little refuges for wildlife have never been important.
"(By) making your own wonderful animal habitat, you can in turn provide vital areas for wild animals to retreat and thrive," Robert said.
There are 15 books to collect in The Great Australian Wildlife Collection. The Urban Wildlife in Your Backyard book is available when you buy your newspaper on February 11, with a new book out each day until February 21.
See wildlifebooks.com.au for more information.
Originally published as How to go wild in your own backyard