Common Blackbird, Adelaide Zoo
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.
Common Blackbirds nesting
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.
Alexandra Gardens, Ararat, Victoria
On the last day of our holidays in January we travelled from Gisborne just north of Melbourne to home in Murray Bridge. It was a long day of driving and I had few opportunities for birding along the way. we left our friends’ place a little later than I had hoped so we didn’t stop for morning tea. We pushed through to Ararat for lunch.
In Ararat we found a reasonable spot in the Alexandra Gardens. Here I was able to do a few minutes of birding during and after our picnic lunch. On the lake were the usual types of birds one expects in lakes in parks and gardens: Eurasian Coots, Dusky Moorhens, Pacific Black Ducks and Silver Gulls.
While we were eating a flock of about 40 Long-billed Corellas came noisily wheeling overhead and settled in the tree above us. In the distance I saw a smaller flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos winging their way slowly across town. A Laughing Kookaburra called somewhere near and Masked Lapwings could be heard calling on the adjacent sports grounds.
In the shrubbery near us several Common Blackbirds gave their warning call as I came down the path, New Holland Honeyeaters were busy feeding in the well maintained Australian native plant section of the gardens and several Striated Pardalotes called from the canopy of the trees overhead.
Birding around Gisborne, Victoria
On our holiday earlier this year we stayed for several days with friends in Gisborne, north of Melbourne. I didn’t deliberately go our birding while there but we did go for several drives in the district and I’ll write about those in coming days.
Instead, I took note of those species I saw or heard around the garden and on a walk we did one evening. I was quite surprised by the numbers of Common Mynas now present in Gisborne. I can’t recall ever seeing so many on previous visits. On one occasion there must have been at least 30 sitting on a neighbour’s roof and fence. That is too many!
The town still has large numbers of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Long Billed Corellas. Several times I heard a small flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flying over. Crimson Rosellas (photo) are also quite common in the area, but I can’t recall seeing or hearing any lorikeets or Galahs on this visit. They must have been around, but I didn’t record any this time.
The common garden birds, apart from the mynas, included House Sparrows, Common Blackbirds, Australian Magpies, Red Wattlebirds and New Holland Honeyeaters. Interestingly, the Mynas seem to have replaced the Common Starling.
I also saw a small flock of thornbills moving through the garden. None would give me a good enough look to positively ID them. They might have been Little Thornbills, but I can’t be sure.
The problem with Common Blackbirds
One of my readers posed this perplexing problem with Common Blackbirds:
Helppppp!!We have a Huggggggge problem with Blackbirds in our garden, flicking our mulch all over the place, it’s driving us crazy, do you know where we could get one of those electronic things to scare them off, or anything else that would work in getting rid of them??
This is a common problem in many gardens.
Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is no simple, easy solution. Most gardeners tolerate this behaviour because they love to hear the beautiful song of the Blackbird during the breeding season.
Mary asks about an electronic device to scare them away. I do not know of any but I suggest asking at the local hardware stores and garden centres. A long search of the internet turned up one very expensive (about $50US) device in a store in Kansas. The downside of this device is that it does not discriminate; it scares ALL birds, including the native birds that keep the natural balance of nature in the garden. Without the native birds eating the insects like mosquitoes, flies, beetles, centipedes, spiders and so on, our gardens would become an ecological disaster area. It would be a far greater problem than the nuisance caused by the Blackbirds.
Here we need to get a little creative. I’m not sure whether any of these ideas will work because I haven’t tried them. Some may even look a little ugly.
- Get rid of the mulch – with water restrictions this may not be desirable or possible.
- Replace the bark mulch with gravel or pebbles too heavy for the birds to move – an expensive solution.
- Build 20cm high walls along the edges of the garden so that the Blackbirds do not flick the mulch on to the path. These could be made of stone, brick, pavers, wooden sleepers, pine posts on their edges and so on. Be creative.
- Cover the mulch with chicken wire, shade-cloth or weed mat. Probably not a good look.
- Turn around your attitude and learn to love the birds; after all, they are just looking for lunch.
I guess these suggestions may not please Mary and may just add to her frustrations. Sorry, Mary.
Over to my readers:
- Do you have any suggestions for Mary? (Please be nice – offensive comments will not be published).
- How have you solved this dilemma in your garden?
- Reply in the comments section below. Update: comments are now closed for this post because, sadly, some people cannot help being abusive.
UPDATE: I also posed this question to subscribers of the Birding-Aus forum. Many of their comments are recorded in the comments section below. I love the one about leaving plastic snakes lying around!