As I sat quietly reflecting in our courtyard, absorbing the warm winter sun, enjoying my hot chocolate and Tim Tams, watching the bees harvest nectar from the Lavender flowers and smiling at the occasional Noisy Miner as it plunges into the birdbaths only a few feet away and shakes its butt as it trustingly watches me, I pondered on what to post. Now nine weeks in lock-down and (including our 2 weeks isolation) we see no immediate end as infections with Delta rise daily and rebellious people flagrantly continue to break the even tougher lock-down laws.
One interesting and encouraging outcome has been the increase in reported backyard bird count figures over the last few months as people in lock-down, or even those just staying home more, either out of fear or now working from home, begin to better appreciate their backyard bird visitors, and some are even capitalizing on it, and sharing it with the world as an encouraging lift of spirits for others, as seen in this video on YouTube which describes how this became a very popular daily series which went viral (to use a currently popular term) on Tic Toc.
So in this post we will highlight some of the important benefits and ways we can attract our local birds. Now what you see below is not a common site, as the Pied Currawong is one of the most wary of birds, and dreads being watched, though this is its own past-time, secretly watching other birds for an opportune moment to steal food from them or their young from the nest. Interesting truth, those who cry loudest about a particular behaviour in others, often suffer blind-spots to themselves being one of the worst offenders.
One advantage of lock-down has been updating my website theme and updating and sprucing up my pages. I have been able to successfully get my head around the Block Editor and devise ways of making it do the things Classic did, that have been omitted by using HTML code and splicing it into the Blocks. Many of you have already checked out my new look pages. My Home Page looks more modern and easier to navigate from. One feature that many have appreciated, especially those new to birding, is not only the changes to my Birding for Beginners Page and 5 Steps to Better Birding page but also information and benefits of setting up a humble backyard birdbath. Click on the image below to read this article.
Before I proceed I want to make a special offer to my loyal Blog Followers, as well as any reading this blog. While I remain in lock-down I have reduced my books to wholesale prices. Of course postage will remain the same. This offer is not outside of this blog. Click here to visit my Lock-Down Sale page.
Another addition to my website, and a bonus from Block Editor was the inclusion of the new easy to install PayPal Checkout Block. You can now purchase more than one copy of each book in one transaction from special pages set up for this purpose and accessible from the Birdbook page, allowing the purchase of up to 4 copies of each book with free postage when 4 are purchased. This has been a great benefit as many return to buy several copies as gifts. Below is my recent Facebook add video for my local area, so please disregard the prices, and click on the above link to make a purchase.
I included the Crested Pigeon flight shot off the birdbath as my feature photo, as it has become a favorite of mine and several others. As I have shared previously, and in my article on making birdbaths effective in attracting bird, if you want the birds to trust you and allow you to come close, you need to learn bird etiquette. Birds each have rules they have learnt about us humans, either passed down from parents or from their experiences, similar to us. I will relist them here:
- Avoid direct eye contact with the bird as this is threatening to them.
- Move very slowly around them with no sudden movements.
- Sit and remain seated in a spot nearby. Eventually over time they will draw near when they realize you are not a threat.
- Remain quiet and try not to make any noise. Birds have super sensitive hearing and are easily startled and frightened, as it is their main means of protection from predators.
- Keep a distance of at least 3 meters to start with. Over time as they get to know and trust you, they will allow you to sit within several feet away.
- The birds are watching you when you least think and communicate their findings to other birds, so keep their baths clean and filled daily and they will frequent them and bring their friends.
- Make sure any cats and dogs are not around when you are wanting to view the birds. Enjoy the Birds !
Grey Butcherbird: My little mate Butch bathing.
‘If your build it they will come‘
This famous saying applies to your backyard also. It is not just about your provision and maintenance of fresh water and safe accessible birdbaths, but much more, especially if you have planted nectar producing shrubs and trees nearby. In Australia, which have some of the greatest nectar producing flowers, which include the Grevilleas and Bottlebrish to name two families, it is recommended for each back or front yard to plant several of these plants. If you do they will come and you can view them feeding. Having the water and nectar in close proximity, will be an even greater attraction, and birds will choose to nest in nearby trees, as they do around us, and even in our old Endeavour Bottlebrush tree (which was suppose to be a shrub). We love viewing the birds when the tree is in flower (in the next month) hanging from the flowers and hearing the Rainbow Lorikeets excitedly chattering to one another.
Many of our American friends have feeders of seed and bark butter etc, as your winters are harsh for the birds, whereas here in Australia, birders and conservationists, discourage the feeding of our wild birds, though many people unwittingly feed them, which may present future problems for both the bird and the one feeding, especially if the bird brings its young to feed and learns this behaviour.
But yes there is more than just birds drinking, bathing and feeding, when you have these facilities in your yard which you can easily view from your window or courtyard seat….
Other activities start occurring from time to time, adding entertaining moments, especially while in lock-down. My wife and I often call each other to the sun-room window to see some extraordinary event taking place. So let me list just some of the ones we have experienced, some you may have already seen, I am sure you have many to add:
- Butch my little Grey Butcherbird friend cleaning out our gutters in search of food snacks.
- Mobbing by Miners is a regular feature here, as they aggressively and successfully guard our area from unwanted intruders, but sadly also from our local Kookaburras who have been trying to get back in again.
Kookaburra family being mobbed by Noisy Miners
- Watching our baby Crested Pigeons grow, having been born above our birdbaths in our Bottlebrush tree.
- Here are last year’s babies sunning and preening, as I have not successfully captured this years on the roof .
- Australian Raven outcast trying to find food, including our new Crested babies, but being chased away by Miners.
Noisy Miner Coalition attacking a rogue Australian Raven.
- You may remember from last Summer’s heat waves and drought the suffering birds coming to our birdbaths exhausted and thirsty, notice their mouths open trying to assist heat exchange, as their body temperatures are also higher than ours. It is in times like this that birds are willing to share the birdbath with other birds, which they would normally be fearful of.
Butcherbird and Noisy Miner share birdbath during a heatwave day.
- You may remember this juvenile Grey Butcherbird, one of Butch’s babies, sitting in our Bottlebrush tree and practicing many different bird calls. This is unusual, as they seldom are heard copying other birds.This only confirms that many of our Aussie birds are capable of mimicry.
Many other observations were not recorded on camera because we were not prepared, as birds have to be captured in the moment or on the fly as it were, and do not wait for us to be ready. I apologize for a boring post, as many of you would have seen these videos in previous posts, but I thought it timely to highlight the importance of assisting our local birds to visit our backyard, as a means of encouraging emotional, physical and mental health it is for us during times such as Lock-Down or illness, that little bird moments can make all the difference in a day. Enjoy your own backyard birds my friends !
Have a most enjoyable week my friends, and thank you for dropping in, with a special welcome to any new visitors. Stay safe and keep praying for the end of this Covid Catastrophe which each of us have been affected by in some way or other.
One thing we have learnt from all this, which carries into all of life, is that: if you build it, they will come. When we open our hearts and pockets to be welcoming to people as well as birds, it brings its own blessings. My wife and I have been amazed at times by how, over the years, several people have remarked on entering our home how peaceful it is, or how they sense a real shalom peace when they walk into our lounge area. We know why this is, and it is not just because of us. Showing acceptance, love and warm hospitality to people we meet and bring into our home is something that carries its own blessing. The art of spontaneous generous hospitality has all but been lost in our country, something that was a feature of life when I was a young parent. The Covid has been trying for us who have missed having friends and family over, especially my wife who loves cooking special dishes, as do I. Some children often visit and stay the night, but not recently, lock-down forbidding. It’s not about a fancy house with all the latest gadgets, or even a large one with pool and maybe even gym, no its about the heart of the home, that is, the people who live there and how they love each other, and share that love with others who come into it.
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” – Hebrews 13:2
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” – 1 Peter 4:9
As a last word we recommend a movie series launched last year called The Chosen, which is a unique and dramatic approach to the life of Jesus of Nazareth. It is something anyone can watch and find enthralling. You can view it by downloading The Chosen app on your phone, where it is now in its second series, and cast it from there to your TV or check out the first few episodes at The Chosen YouTube channel. You can find out more here.