Late last year I had a brief visit to the Wittunga Botanic Gardens in the Adelaide Hills. I had a medical appointment nearby and when that was out of the way I drove the short distance to the gardens and found a shady spot to have lunch. This was in the spring last year, but it turned out to be quite a warm day.
These gardens used to be a part of a large private collection of plants, mainly exotic with a nice mix of Australian native trees and shrubs. In the spring time to exotics can put on quite a colourful show. After lunch I took the camera and strolled around the gardens trying to get a few bird shots. This is usually an excellent spot for birding but on this occasion the birdlife was a little quiet. Like me, the birds were probably feeling the first heat of the coming summer.
The gardens feature some dense plantings of both native and exotic species. It also boasts some beautiful sweeping grassed areas ideal for picnics as well as several water features. Somehow the usual ducks, coots and swamp hens weren’t to be seen during this visit – except for the two Australian Wood Ducks shown feeding in the photo below.
- Wittunga Botanic Gardens
- Wittunga Botanic Gardens part 1
- Wittunga Botanic Gardens part 2
- Wittunga Botanic Gardens part 3
- Wittunga Botanic Gardens part 4
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.