Silver Gull eating a rabbit

Silver Gulls, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Silver Gulls, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Silver Gulls are the most common species of gull in Australia. They are found in all coastal regions around Australia as well as far inland near to water courses and lakes. Here in my home town of Murray Bridge in South Australia they are quite common along the River Murray which is about 4 kilometres from my home.

Last Saturday morning on my way down to the CBD of the town I needed to avoid hitting a Silver Gull feeding on, of all things, a dead rabbit in the middle of the road near our place. Silver Gulls are known for their scavenging habits, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen one eating a rabbit.

I didn’t have my camera with me at the time. My readers are probably relieved for that; the dead rabbit was not a pretty sight!

A new species at the bird bath

European Rabbit in our garden

European Rabbit in our garden

Our bird baths give us a great deal of pleasure, especially during the warmer months of the year. I am sure that the birds appreciate it too.

I have written often about the birds visiting the bird baths, and many photos featured here on this blog are taken while they are enjoying a drink or a splash.

One of the bird baths sits on the ground. We don’t have much of a problem with cats here so the birds are generally happy to use it. Some of the local lizards also enjoy drinking the water provided, as did a fox one evening.

The new species to avail itself of this water source was the  introduced European Rabbit. For more than twenty years we have rarely seen a rabbit on our property. The rabbit calicivirus almost wiped them out in the district, but not quite. Over the last two years numbers have increased to the point where we have about 5 or 6 resident rabbits, including very young animals, and we see them on a daily basis. Not good news. I’ll have to rabbit proof the vegetable garden this coming winter.

Further reading:

  • Time for a bath – contains a complete list of birds and animals recorded coming to our bird baths.  The post also includes a selection of the best photos.

Time for a bath: visitors to our bird bath

Brown-headed Honeyeater

Brown-headed Honeyeater

Some years ago we set up a birdbath on our patio area. It gave us much pleasure to see birds coming to drink and bathe. More recently we moved it to the other side of the house. Now it is in full view from our sunroom. It is here we often eat our meals, and work at the table with the birdbath in full view.

Over recent years, this location has had four main benefits:

  1. It is a great time waster investment; watching the birds go about their daily lives just a few metres from where we are sitting is both relaxing and refreshing to the body, mind and spirit.
  2. It is most entertaining, especially when a bird like a Mallee Ringneck Parrot comes to bathe and the water sprays in all directions.
  3. It is excellent for photography; with the 12X zoom on my camera, I have taken many close-up shots of the birds visiting. (Update: my new camera has a 20x zoom. Further update: I now have a camera with an 83x zoom.)
  4. It is educational; our human visitors marvel at our avian visitors and this gives us the opportunity to further enhance our friends’ appreciation of the natural environment.
White-plumed Honeyeater

White-plumed Honeyeater

I’ve actually installed three different baths in close proximity to one another; one on the ground (which the lizards sometimes use too), one at a height of about 60cm and the third at about 1.5m. This gives them choices. The nearby branches and bushes give them a place of refuge if they feel threatened in any way.

House Sparrow (male)

House Sparrow (male)

A List of Species that have visited our bird baths:

  • Mallee Ringneck Parrot
  • New Holland Honeyeater
  • Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater
  • Red Wattlebird
  • Brown-headed Honeyeater
  • Singing Honeyeater
  • White-plumed Honeyeater
  • House Sparrow
  • Common Starling
  • Little Raven
  • Willie Wagtail
  • Spotted Turtledove
  • Crested Pigeon
  • Spotted Pardalote
  • Striated Pardalote
  • Diamond Firetail Finch
  • Yellow-rumped Thornbill
  • Grey Shrike-thrush
  • Australian Magpie
  • Magpie Lark
  • Mistletoebird
  • Common Blackbird
  • Rufous Whistler (see updates below)
  • European Goldfinch (see updates below)
  • Chestnut-rumped Thornbill (see updates below)
  • Grey Fantail (see updates below)
  • Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike (see updates below)
  • Galah (see updates below)
  • Grey Currawong (see updates below)
  • Eastern Rosella (see updates below)
  • Sacred Kingfisher (see updates below)
  • Dusky Woodswallow (see updates below)
  • White-browed Babblers (see updates below)
  • White-winged Chough (see updates below)
  • White-browed Woodswallow (see updates below)
  • Purple-crowned Lorikeet (see updates below)
  • Animals
  • Red Fox
  • Stumpy-tailed Lizard
  • European Rabbit
  • Brown Snake
  • Blue-tongue Lizard

That’s quite a list!

UPDATE: More recently we have added the following species to the list:

  • Rufous Whistler
  • European Goldfinch
  • Chestnut-rumped Thornbill

UPDATE #2 Two more species to add to the list:

  • Stumpy-tail Lizard (also called a Shingleback Lizard)
  • Red Fox – yes, that’s right, a fox.
  • Brown Snake – passed close to the bird bath on the ground. In January 2016 a metre long Brown Snake actually stopped to have a drink. See photos here.

UPDATE #3 Another species to add to the list: Grey Fantail – it came to the bird bath briefly but left before I could take a photograph (4th May, 2007)

UPDATE #4 In January 2008 we had a single Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike come to drink briefly from the bird bath.

UPDATE #5 In late January 2008 a single Galah came to within a metre of the bird bath but did not drink. A few weeks later I added Grey Currawong to the list.

UPDATE #6 In December 2008 I added European Rabbit to the list.

UPDATE #7 In December 2009 I added Eastern Rosella. (Click here for a photo)

UPDATE #8 In November 2013 a Sacred Kingfisher perched about a metre from the bird bath but did not drink. In February 2014 a Dusky Woodswallow came to drink during one of our heat waves during a very hot summer.

UPDATE #9  In September 2015 I added White-winged Chough, White-browed Babbler and Blue-tongue Lizard (click for photo)

UPDATE #10 In December 2015, during a heatwave, I added White-browed Woodswallow.

UPDATE #11 In December 2020 I added Purple-crowned Lorikeet.

Comments: many of my readers have commented on this post – read them below and leave one of your own.

Update: this post was last updated on December 2020.

Mallee Ringneck Parrot

Mallee Ringneck Parrot

Mallee Ringneck Parrot

Mallee Ringneck Parrot

Mallee Ringneck Parrot

Mallee Ringneck Parrot