I regularly receive comments and questions about birds on this blog. I also receive comments and questions via my contact page here. I welcome these interactions with my readers.
This morning I received a question from a reader who is concerned about the finches in their garden.
We have been establishing a large area of garden for finches. Unfortunately I have a few crows now living around as they have decided my chook pen is a good restaurant. I have now cut off the egg supply but they are still around. Will they be deterring the finches from living here and are they a threat to them?
Thanks to Lee for that question.
Lee should be congratulated for these gardening aims. I assume that you have done your homework and planted bushes and grasses suitable to attract birds in general, not just finches. Finches – along with many of our smaller birds like honeyeaters, thornbills, weebills, chats, wrens and pardalotes – require a certain level of bushy shrubs to feel safe from predators. Plants like callistemons, grevilleas, melaleucas and hakeas provide protection, food sources, nesting sites and roosting sites.
Finches, being primarily seed eaters, also require a range of native grasses. These are becoming increasingly popular in gardens, not just to attract birds. Their colours and textures add significantly to the Australian feel of a native garden. Finches also love a reliable source of water, so a bird bath is essential to keep them around.
Crows, ravens, butcherbirds, currawongs and even magpies are all species that will raid the nests of smaller species of birds, including finches. They often take eggs and will also raid nests for the hatchlings. This is the natural cycle of life. Birds of prey such as falcons, hawks and kites will also raid nests, and also have the ability to take the adult birds resting or even flying.
The crows in your garden are probably resident birds. This means that they are not only present every day, they breed there or nearby. Your chook pen just provided them with an easy option. Closing access to the chook eggs was just a temporary setback to them. There must be sufficient food available for them to hang around.
Providing the finches have sufficient protection, a reliable food source, nesting and roosting sites, they should thrive in your garden. The crows and other predatory species I mentioned are a threat but probably not a deterrent.
For more information about Australian plants go to my wife’s blog: Mallee Native Plants
Good gardening – and enjoy your birds.
I’ve just come inside after hanging out a load of washing. While this necessary task interrupts my writing, I do welcome and enjoy it. Firstly, it stretches my legs and gets me out of my chair and away from the computer for a few minutes. Then I enjoy the breath of fresh air. Finally, it allows me to be outdoors with my head up – always a good pose for birding.
This morning’s delight was two (a pair?) of Masked Lapwings (plovers) flying noisily just over my head. This is a very common species in this area, but strangely, we don’t often get them landing on our 5 acre block of land. They also don’t often seem to fly directly overhead either. We usually only hear them in the distance.
Last week on a visit to the nearby Monarto Zoo I photographed a Masked Lapwing sitting on a nest. In another enclosure we saw a pair escorting three young chicks. I hope they didn’t venture into the nearby cheetah enclosure!
- Masked Lapwings -articles about lapwings from my archives.
Last week we had a short picnic at the Pangarinda Arboretum at Wellington East about a half hour drive south of our home here in Murray Bridge, South Australia.
It was a sunny winter’s day and the birds were very active, especially the honeyeaters. I didn’t get much of a chance to take photos of birds because none would sit and pose for me -except for one very cooperative New Holland Honeyeater.
So instead of getting upset with the uncooperative birds, I spent most of my time taking photos of the many plants in flower.
Click on the photo to enlarge the image.
Last week we went for a short picnic lunch to the Pangarinda Arboretum at Wellington East, South Australia.
The breeze was cool – it is winter after all – but the sun was pleasant if you were out of the wind. While we had our lunch about half a dozen Welcome swallows entertained us by swooping all around. Two of them seemed to be having a race (breeding behaviour?) and as they swept past me they nearly collided with my nose.
While there were plenty of plants already flowering this spot will only come into its own in the coming month of so. Many plants were not yet flowering. Despite that the birds were already busy feeding on those plant that were in flower. The New Holland Honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds and Singing Honeyeaters were particularly active everywhere through the park. We only stayed several hours but it was a pleasant diversion from the intense writing I have been doing over the last few weeks.
Over the last few weeks several Galahs have been hanging around a hollow in one of our mallee trees near our house. This is the largest tree on our property and is probably well over a hundred years old-maybe several hundred. Only mature age mallee trees have trunks the size of this one. And only mature mallee trees develop branches large enough to create hollows.
Over recent years this hollow hosted a wild bee colony, but that seems to have moved on. Over the last two to three years Galahs have investigated this hollow on many occasions but none has nested in it. One pair even diligently went about enlarging the hollow but with no nesting taking place.
I can’t be sure whether this is the same pair or a new pair trying it on for size. They certainly seem very interested and hang around there off and on for several hours every day. They even chase off other interested tenants, so they must be quite serious about it.
I’ll keep you posted on any developments on the home front.