I was working in my home office last week when I heard a sudden bang on the glass about a metre from where I sat. I immediately grabbed the camera and headed out into the garden. There on the garden bed was a little Silvereye, obviously quite stunned but alive. I was able to take a series of close up photos while it recovered. Within a few minutes it had flown off again.
Window strikes by birds is a constant problem around the world. Home windows, office blocks and anywhere glass is used in buildings create a potential hazard for flying birds. At certain times of the day or light conditions the reflections of the surrounding area – sky, garden, forest – give flying birds the false impression that they can fly straight ahead.
In reality, they fly straight into the glass which is acting like a huge mirror. I have read about various techniques for preventing bird strikes on windows but haven’t yet come across a foolproof way of preventing it.
Luckily for this little fellow, he survived.
Click on any image to enlarge the photo.
I’ve been a little distracted from blogging on this site this week – for two reasons.
I’ve been very busy with my studies is one of the reasons.
The second reason is that this week I became a Grandfather for the first time. Our son and daughter in law are currently in Colombia, South America adopting a little boy. You can read about their adventures here. We’ve actually been able to see and speak to the little fellow (7 months old) via a web cam on Skype, wonderful technology which allows us to actually see and hear him in real time.
Meanwhile, you’ll have to be satisfied with a photo of a Silvereye taken earlier this week in our garden.
I recently had a request for help with research on Silvereyes in Australia. If you are able to help, please contact Dominique directly at the email address at the bottom of the article.
Hello Fellow Australian Birders!
I need your help!
My name is Dominique, and I am a PhD student currently studying at the University of Melbourne. I am investigating how urban noise affects song learning, development and evolution within a native Australian bird species. The species I have chosen to focus on is the Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis). I have chosen the silvereye for a variety of reasons: it occurs commonly in both urban and rural environments, its behaviours (especially acoustic) have been well documented, and we have good knowledge regarding its genetics.
The first part of my project will involve travelling to various sites around Australia, capturing silvereyes for morphological and genetic analysis, releasing them, and recording the songs of individuals in that population. I am using paired sites in order to compare urban vs rural birds, and I am hoping to cover a relatively large geographical range, in order to observe any geographical effects on song, as well as environmental. I will be staying in each place perhaps for a week or so doing data collection, before moving on.
Although there is good data available on the distribution of silvereyes in atlases, I need the help of birders across Australia (yes, that’s YOU!) to locate resident populations of silvereyes: areas where individuals might be able to be recorded and caught reliably.
I would like to specifically focus on the following areas: Southern Victoria, Southeastern South Australia, Eastern NSW, Tasmania, and Southeast Queensland. Therefore, I am asking if anyone knows of any silvereye populations that tend to hang out either in city parks, or rural areas.
If you have any knowledge that could help me with this project, or any further questions about my research, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would like to thank you in advance for your help, and I hope to hear from you soon.
One of the frustrations I felt on our holiday in New South Wales earlier this year was the lack of time to do some serious birding as we went along. We were on a tight time schedule because our daughter had to return home to go to work. It was great spending three weeks with our adult daughter, but the birding was limited. Despite that I did get to see a good list of birds and I also found some excellent spots to return to later when we are less rushed.
We travelled down the south coast of New South Wales from Bateman’s Bay to Mallacoota in Victoria. On the way we passed through the beautiful towns of Narooma, Bermagui, and Merimbula, all worthy of a stay for a week, not just a quick drive through.
Upon reaching the port of Eden we did stop for about a half hour. We found a picnic area with a great view out over the beach and bay, as shown in the photos on this page.
From our picnic spot we saw Silver Gulls and Whiskered Terns flying along the beach or just out a short way into the bay. A small flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flew over head heading for the nearby coastal forest. Red Wattlebirds and Silvereyes were feeding in the bushes near our picnic spot and a family of cheeky Superb Fairy-wrens came close enough for a few good photos. The full coloured male came up close and posed for me.
On the way through the town I was able to add Galah, House Sparrow and Rock Dove to my list. This area is well worth another, longer, visit sometime in the near future.
In recent weeks we have had a few Silvereyes come to visit our garden. This species is not a regular visitor to our place, and many months can elapse between visits. The bird shown in the photo above visited us several months ago. Since that time I have heard or seen several Silvereyes on four or five occasions. This is the usual colouration for this species here in Murray Bridge.
Just to confuse me, the bird featured in this second photo, and in the third photo below, seems much darker in colour on the back. These two photos were taken in the Newland Head Conservation Park near Victor Harbor, about 80km south of Adelaide. At first glance, they seem to be two quite different species.The difference could be explained by the fact the the first one was taken in full sunlight, while the other two were in full shade. But things are not as simple as that when looking at Silvereyes in Australia.
Studying the various fieldguides and HANZAB* the issue is quite confusing with many different races with slight colour variations. I’m not going to confuse the issue further be trying to write about which I know very little.
Silvereyes are found throughout New Zealand, some Pacific Islands, eastern Australia, all of Victoria and Tasmania and southern South Australia and western Australia. Those in Tasmania breed there in summer before migrating in large numbers to the mainland for winter. There is also some significant migration of the species throughout mainland Australia.
Silvereyes prefer most types of vegetation that provide some protective cover. This can include scrubs, shrublands, heath, mangroves, woodlands and forests. They often occur in parks, gardens, orchards and vineyards. I have personally encountered them most often in dense coastal scrubland.
Silvereyes eat a wide variety of fruits and insects, food scraps, flowers and seeds. They can become a pest species in gardens, vineyards and orchards when they eat the fruit. They will forage from the ground up to the canopy of trees. Foraging occurs in small groups through to large, loose flocks.
Silvereyes build a neat, loosely woven nest using spider’s web, grass, bark, twigs, plants stems, moss and fibrous rootlets. When available they will also use wool, horsehair, cotton, string and even cloth. They usually lay three or four eggs (sometimes two) which are oval shaped and pale blue or bluish-green. Breeding has been recorded in all months in Australia but most commonly they breed in spring through summer (September to January). The eggs hatch in about 12 days and the young fledge after about another 12 days.
*HANZAB= Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds