about this blog



I started this blog in 2008. It started mainly as a way of tracking the evolution of my dry garden, and that led to an interest in photography and in the creatures that live in the garden. It's still about the garden and wildlife, but now my passion is thinking about how we humans can learn to co-exist with wild animals and plants, especially in urban areas.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

birds in the garden: a dismal update


I miss the jubilant rowdy morning chorus I used to hear each morning. These mornings I'm lucky if I hear half a dozen birds greeting the day. Sometimes it's eerily silent, apart from traffic noise. Other mornings I might just hear pigeons cooing. It's very sad.

Recently there have been more introduced bird species than native birds in the garden. I don't mind blackbirds and pigeons so much. It's the Indian Myna birds I take exception to. They have an unpleasant voice and are nasty, aggressive and possessive of their territory, often chasing other birds away.




Indian Myna birds were introduced to Australia in the 1860s to control insects in market gardens. Since then they have flourished, adapting to a wide variety of conditions, and are hated and regarded as pests.

Lismore, a town in New South Wales, recently declared war on the species.

Indian Myna bird in my garden
Blackbird

The Spotted Dove originates in Southeast Asia and India. It was introduced to Melbourne in the 1860s and is now very common. They tend to walk around the garden, usually in pairs, foraging for seeds.
Spotted Dove

One native bird that does frequent the garden is the Red Wattlebird, one of the largest of Australian honeyeaters. Wattlebirds feed on nectar by probing flowers with their thin curved beaks. Unfortunately they are also aggressive, and attack other nectar feeders to protect their food source.

Red Wattlebird
Another Red Wattlebird, showing its red wattle






This beautiful Eclectus parrot visited my garden, but it's not exactly wild. The parrot's name is Ruby, and she visited with her owner J. She is very attached to J, and the feeling is reciprocal. Sigh, it's so much easier to take photos of tame birds!



Brown Thornbill (Wikipedia)

There are also flocks of tiny chittering birds that I never manage to capture with my camera because they are continually, rapidly darting around.



24 comments:

  1. I'm sorry that your garden's bird population and their beautiful songs are less than usual! Such a beautiful parrot! Much easier to take pictures of birds that like to pose for the camera!

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    1. thanks for the sympathetic comment, og.

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  2. I think you did a fine job with the wild birds! I have so much trouble with that. Focusing on moving objects is so difficult! Sorry about the bird troubles. I hope it will be resolved so more of your native favorites will regain!

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    1. thanks beth. I am afraid the bird situation won't be resolved because it is the inevitable result of people pulling out gardens and replacing them with concrete and bricks.

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  3. This is the trouble when species are imported from another continent, they take over and oust the natives. The dawn chorus is wonderful to hear and such a shame that you are not able to enjoy it any longer. You did well with your photos, the telephoto isn't good at all on my camera and I wish I could photograph the birds here, only my tame robin comes to pose for me!

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    1. Hi Pauline, yes, plants are so much more well behaved than birds. But how lovely to have a tame robin.

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  4. Wow, that's not dismal at all. We only get sparrows, pigeons,and if we're lucky some robins.

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    1. thanks for the comment Gra. It's dismal compared to what it used to be like. I don't know anything about the situation in Malta, but it's a shame if you have so little diversity in your birdlife population.

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  5. I understand your frustration. We've had similar problems here, although it is less of a problem in the immediate area where we live and we are fortunate to have many native birds and especially song birds here in our garden. We had a couple of interesting experiences with native birds fighting off "invaders" last year -- it was amazing to see robins defending their turf against starlings and crows defending the smaller birds and their nests against grackles! I hope you're country is able to restore the natural balance so you hear birdsong once again.

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    1. hi C and S, I think there are similar problems everywhere where natural habitats are removed and replaced with housing for humans who are out of touch with nature. I have a lovely image of your plucky robins defending their turf against larger invaders. Thanks for your good wishes.

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  6. It is frustrating when we move species around without thinking... not fair to them and the native species.

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    1. hi donna, it is frustrating, but once the species move, or are moved, it's generally too late to turn back the clock, I think.

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  7. I fell sad for those birds which are hated. I just can't hate any animals!

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    1. dear Satu, lovely sentiments. In theory I don't hate any living thing. But when I see those Indian mynas, I do dislike them intensely.

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  8. Sue,
    maybe you have to move ( but you won't, I guess ). Here I get those bloody mynahs, pushing everything else out of their way, but I also get butcherbirds, silver-eyes, thornbills, magpies, a tawny frogmouth!, lorikeets, a pair of hawks, ravens, magpie-larks, loads of blackbirds, sometimes, with luck, cockatoos and even corellas overhead, and, once in a blue moon, something like ducks or herons ( I live near a lake ). What a shame suburbia attracts our friends less. However, when I lived in Hawthorn some years ago, I met a pair of robin red-breasts. Such a delight!

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    1. thanks for the comment Faisal. I do think about one day moving to a more rural area, but I'm not ready yet- not yet finished the garden! Or maybe I should say I'm not finished with the garden, because it will never be finished.

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  9. I did not realize mynah birds were so hated. I find it difficult to want to deal with nonnative species because all have a right to live. I realize it is sometimes at the expense of others sadly. Ruby is a sweet looking bird. Colorful too!

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    1. hi donna, there is a native mynah species called Noisy Mynas. They get terrorized by the Indian ones. I dislike Indian myna birds but I couldn't kill one.

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  10. The Indian myna birds are a problem in South Africa too, more near sub-tropical Durban. In our garden are the European starlings, but tho alien and invasive, we still have a variety of birds.

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    1. hi diana - but I think you don't live in suburbia, so maybe that's why the local environment can support starlings as well as other birds?

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    2. but we shouldn't encourage the starlings. Water, food and shelter - yes. But we have 2 cats.

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  11. It would be disappointing not to hear birdsong in the morning. We never seem to learn and continue to introduce non-native animals, birds and insects to control some problem or other. Then the solution to whatever problem ends up becoming a problem itself. We do not seem to have the same issue with non-native birds (that I know of at any rate). Our main issue seems to be with insects. A few were introduced and others have come on their own. Right now Japanese Beetles are the biggest thing I have to contend with.

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    1. thanks for the comment Jennifer. I do hear birdsong still and in some ways I've painted an extra bleak picture here, but it's just that I'm so aware of the decline in birds and birdsong over the years. Good luck with the Japanese beetles problem.

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  12. That's a shame that the native birds have been chased out. I have only relatively recently started being visited by native birds (unless they've been sneaking in while I'm at work), and they came for the kangaroo paws. It just makes me want to plant more and more of them (I did plant a few more this weekend). It makes me so happy to see more and more birds and bees feeding on the native plants :)

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