Never did I imagine that it would be so popular. It consistently is one of the ten most read articles on this site, and with nearly 300 comments from readers, it has obviously struck a chord with my readers.
A few days ago, one of my readers – Sue – wrote a wonderful account of the Common Blackbirds in her garden, along with comments on honeyeaters and their interactions with her pet cats. I found this account so fascinating that I have published it here in full so that more readers can enjoy her experiences.
Great massive Blackbird thread!
I thought I would add our Blackbird experience for your consideration.
We have a medium-sized block in Kensington, Adelaide, so I have a bit of garden surrounding the old villa. We have two cats, which live entirely inside with the amenity of a professionally built, fully netted enclosure on one side of the house from verandah to fence.
The honeyeaters were the first to find a way into the enclosure, by dropping through the ceiling netting which has a slightly larger grid than the wall netting, to get to the citrus trees inside. They were always faster than the one cat who has any real hunting ability. Their other advantage is that cat is deaf – so if he doesn’t see them, he doesn’t know they are there.
Then the resident pair of blackbirds learnt the same trick. For them the strip of garden along the fence and the mulched area around the compost bins are a rich source of forage. They are also faster than the cats. And they also enter and exit at speed, despite the bird seeming too large for the net.
The enclosure has vine growing over it. The vine is trained underneath on wires, and grows up through the net.
Honeyeaters chose to nest in the vine above the net. They raised a chick, then moved to the bamboo for the next round.
This summer the blackbirds have built a nest in the vine IN the enclosure, UNDER the net. They fledged one enormous chick just before Christmas and to our delight have gone another round with two, possibly three, hungry chicks being fed as I type.
We were worried how the baby might get out safely, but we actually saw it fledge over a weekend. It was encouraged out of the nest, to hop around the branches, then encouraged up through the net. We have seen it in the rest of the garden with its parents several times.
Mrs B doesn’t worry even when I am watering right under her. Previous behaviour for the blackbirds, the honeyeaters and even the wattlebirds is to nag me in the garden for the rain wave sprinkler then enjoy the ‘rain’. It’s not just Aussie humans that like running under the sprinkler in the hot weather.
This year the rosellas have the small hole in an old peppercorn tree, and the lorikeets had the large hole in the same tree, and were both successful.
The rest of the garden is not cat free, and there are definitely cats, rats, foxes, as well as possums and the annual koala, using it at times, but the complexity of the cat enclosure and the presence of the cats seems to keep the (non-resident) predators away from it.
In a highly artificial urban environment, we would all prefer if native species could thrive, but sometimes the imports are better suited to holding a niche. Compared to mynahs, the blackbirds seem to be a lesser of two evils. And lorikeets have proved to be pretty dominating over the smaller rosella..
Happy bird encounters, all… Sue
Thank you, Sue, for a wonderful description of the birdlife and wildlife in your suburban garden. I wish more cat lovers would be as responsible as you are with a special enclosure.
- Common Blackbirds – the article which started it all
- Do Blackbirds swoop? How to deal with aggressive bird behaviour – another article with over 100 comments from around the world.
- Keep your cats inside – an article I wrote some time ago about the problem of cats to the Australian environment.
- Great birding moments #7 Koala
I love getting comments from my readers. Every now and then I get a really interesting one, like the one from Sue which I have quoted below.
Happy new year Trevor!
A Big thank you for maintaining your site…
I’m in suburban Adelaide, and I put a second bath into the garden when the hot weather struck early in the season. We have always had a terracotta pot pond with water lilies that allows for the bees to drink as well having a strong enough rim for some of the larger birds. The other two are just very large terracotta pot saucers, one on the ground, the other now in a raised garden bed under a deep shade tree.The ring neck dove (Spotted Turtle-dove) nested and fledged a chick in a hanging pot under the verandah.. Much cooler than her previous nest . Blackbird got it wrong and build a nest behind the fence post on the support rail .. But the iron faces west and is only shaded part of the day. She sat the nest for a full week before abandoning it, I suspect it was far too hot once the sun tracked round. Unfortunately, mid year, the neighbours had removed the large shrubs many of them had been using.
The New Holland honeyeaters, the Blackbird and the Wattlebirds have all now learnt to associate me out watering with a wet foliage cool off. The honeyeaters will actually make a fuss until I wet the bamboo down to make a cool and safe retreat then happily make use of it regardless of how close I am. I suspect they may nest in the bamboo next year as its big enough to be a stable thicket.
All of them love it when the old fashioned rain wave sprinkler is put on.
They all seem to be learning new tricks to cope with the extra heat … with a little help from their friends.
Thank you, Sue, for sharing your delight in the birds in your garden.
If any of my readers would like to also share their experiences with birds in gardens – or other places for that matter, please leave a comment here on this article, or any article for that matter. You never know – I may feature your experiences in an article so everyone can read it.
Below I have included a few photos of birds at our bird baths.
- Time for a bath – an article about birds and other animals which have visited our bird baths.
Despite having Common Blackbirds in our garden I have found them to be hard to get good photographs of them. This is probably because we have a fairly open garden with only a few bushes where they can hide or skulk around. I was therefore quite pleased to get this shot of a male blackbird on a recent visit to Adelaide Zoo. He was in one of the animal enclosures, scratching around in the leaf and bark litter under a tree.
Just before Christmas we stayed for a few days in my brother-in-law’s holiday home in Christies Beach just south of Adelaide. It was a week of lazing by the pool, reading and sleeping after a very demanding and busy year.
I wasn’t intending doing any birding while I was there, so the birds came to me. My b-in-law has a car port attached to the house and enclosed on three sides. One of the cross beams supporting the roof was too enticing for the local resident Common Blackbirds. They’d made a very cosy nest in the corner right up against the roof. We had several days of very high temperatures while we were there so it would have been very cosy indeed!
Common Blackbirds are very opportunistic and creative when it comes to choosing a nesting site. We’ve often had them nesting inside our garden shed – in some empty plant pots. Some of my readers have told me about nests in pot plants – even those with plants in them, nests in hanging baskets and nests in all sorts of locations.
Over the last few weeks the resident Common Blackbirds in our garden have been singing beautifully. They have also been giving their warning calls when I approach too close. With some careful observing I found out where they had built their nest (see photo above). For the second year running they have used a shelf in the pool shed where the pump and filter for our swimming pool are housed.
It proved to be quite a cosy place out of the wind and rain we’ve had recently. Today the nest was empty so they also survived the heatwave we had recently.