We enjoy the wonderful range of birds that frequent our garden here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. Over the last twenty years we have recorded over a hundred different species. Many of these are resident species, meaning that they are present every day all the year round.
We have many favourites. There are some species that enthrall us with their beauty. One such species is the Golden Whistler. The female is a rather plain Jane, being mostly a nondescript brown. The male is something else. To catch sight of the male in full breeding plumage sitting on an exposed dead branch in full sunlight is to see natural beauty in all its glory. Magnificent.
The male Golden Whistler is not just beautiful to look at and admire. Launching into its musical call one gains a new appreciation of the richness of the call of many of our songbirds here in Australia. Again – magnificent.
We feel so privileged to have such beauty grace our garden.
Over recent months we have had several visits from Rufous Whistlers in our garden. The most frequent of these has been a juvenile male. In the photo above one can see the streaking on the front indicating a young bird. The next photo shows the back of a juvenile with more definite marking. This could well be the same bird because the photo was taken a few weeks later.
The third photo (below) shows the young bird developing more definite markings and colours on the front. The rufous belly and breast-feathers are starting to take on the colour of a mature bird. Interestingly, at the same time I also managed to get a great backside shot of a Spotted Pardalote drinking from the bird bath.
In the final shot we see a side on view of the bird. The black throat band is particularly prominent.
Click on any photo to enlarge the image.
We have many beautiful birds here in Australia and the Whistlers would be up there in the most beautiful list of many people. Here in Murray Bridge we have two species, the Golden Whistler and the Rufous Whistler.
While neither whistler is a resident species in our garden, they are both regular visitors. Their rich melodic calls are a delight and the brilliant colours, especially of the Golden Whistler are truly wonderful.
A few days ago we had a male juvenile Rufous Whistler come to visit the bird bath. This is the first time either species had come to drink, but then it was a very hot day so it is not all that surprising I guess. I did observe that he was very hesitant while approaching the water. It was plain that he was not at ease and was being very cautious.
While the photo is not brillaint (it was the only one I managed before he flew off) it does show the black breast band and rufous belly beginning to develop. This was a very good addition to our list of species that have visited the bird baths.
- Time for a bath – a list of visitors to our bird baths.
- Close encounters of the bird kind – close up views of a female Golden Whistler
- Golden Moment – close up views of both a male and female Golden Whistler
- Rufous Whistler – another encounter with a juvenile bird.
We just had a beautiful bird visit our patio area next to the house. A female Golden Whistler was hopping about the pot plants just outside our lounge room. We have seen this beautiful bird in the garden and in the plant nursery but rarely does it come so close to the house. We were able to watch it from inside the sliding glass door as it hopped around for several minutes, catching the insects near the plants.
Although the female seems to be a dull brown colour, up close like this, one is aware of the subtle markings on the wings and back. I must keep a lookout for the male; he is coloured bright yellow – golden yellow, hence the species name.
Last weekend we attended a native plant sale at Geranium. This is a small town of only about 80 residents. It is about an hour drive from Murray Bridge and is situated in the heart of the Murray Mallee. It is set in a wheat and sheep farming district and so much of the land has been cleared for this purpose. Along the road sides, however, there is a rich remnant vegetation strip and this provides a reasonably adequate habitat for a range of mallee loving birds, especially when it is in flower.
The area is dominated by honeyeaters. Over the last decade I have recorded the following honeyeater species in or near Geranium:
Brown Headed Honeyeater
New Holland Honeyeater
White Plumed Honeyeater
White Eared Honeyeater
Yellow Plumed Honeyeater
Spiny Cheeked Honeyeater
Purple Gaped Honeyeater (rare)
The common birds of prey include the Black Shouldered Kite, Nankeen Kestral, Little Eagle and Australian Hobby. I am not sure of the status of the magnificent Wedge Tailed Eagle in this district. Down through the years since settlement this species has been seen in a negative light by many farmers who have shot them to prevent loss of lambs from their sheep flocks.
The Crested Pigeon is very common throughout the region as is the Common Bronzewing Pigeon where the habitat is suitable. The delightful tiny Peaceful Dove must also occur in this region but I have not personally recorded it. Around the town, especially the wheat storage silos, the introduced feral Rock Pigeon is present in the hundreds. They are also present around farm sheds.
The most common parrot in this area would have to be the Galah. Flocks of hundreds can often be observed throughout the Murray Mallee districts. Little Corellas may also be present though I have not seen any near Geranium. The large Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo may also be a vagrant but not resident due to a lack of suitable food trees. Sulpher Crested Cockatoos may also occur in this district but I haven’t seen any. Purple Crowned Lorikeets are common, and Rainbow Lorikeets have been recorded. Other parrots resident in or near Geranium include:
Red Rumped Parrots
Blue Winged Parrots
My total number of species for this area stands at 56 species. Here is a list of some other birds I have recorded in the district:
The most unusual sighting I have made in Geranium is a single Cattle Egret feeding on the school oval.