Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Bird Feeder

My brother Brendan is not a subtle person, and he had left me in no doubt that he disliked my amateurish design of the bird feeding tables I had built. I like him, none-the-less, despite his directness. Even he liked looking at the array of birds which came to my old bird feeder tables.

Well, this week he turned up with his trailer, topped with a 3 metre long branch of a tree, which he had meticulously planed down on the top and bottom sides. I was being given a new "Bird Feeder" (whether I wanted it or not).

Anyway, after a few days working up in the ceiling, in cramped conditions, reinforcing my old (very old and very damaged) "horse-hair plaster" (actually plaster sheeting with sisal mixed in), I decided Brendan ought be given some respite, so we set about installing his dream bird feeder (at my house).

Brendan had found a huge fallen tree at Bodalla, following a recent storm. It had been cut into sections by the people who had cleared the road. Brendan had grabbed one three and a half metre branch, and taken it home to trim it up and "thickness" it.
He was impressed by the size of this fallen "Spotted Gum"
Corymbia maculata
It was 900mm diameter at about 4 metres above ground level
(the point where it had been cut).
The "root ball" is over 4 metres tall and wide.
The tree had no tap root, and only shallow roots.
Today we installed this beam across two posts on my deck which I had originally left longer than the others, for the purpose of basing bird feeders on. Perfect.

Using two long coach bolts, and heavy drills, the new feeder is now fixed onto the posts of the deck and rail assembly. Glued and screwed off, for secure fixing, with a water-proofing membrane above the tops of the posts.

Next came the "branches" for the birds to land on. These have been fitted into holes drilled into the beam. I have added a further "approach perch", following a successful trial of one dead branch with quite small branches. The Bowerbirds like this, as do the local Lewin's Honeyeaters in particular. They are the smallest birds to use my feeder table, and seem to be relatively nervous, so appreciate some "protective branches" through which to approach the table.

While I was taking the photos of the first load of fruit on the new "feeder"
a Lewin's Honeyeater came in to test out the new feeder.
We kept with my original technique of up-turned screws on which to fix the fruit. In this case, we chopped the heads off "3 inch" screws, and drilled 3.5mm drill holes (the diameter of the shank of the screws), added a dob of "Liquid Nails" as both glue and water sealant, and tapped the screws in (upside down). This means that fruit can easily be fixed on the spikes by twisting it down on the screw thread.
Judging from recent weeks of observation with different fruits, even Currawongs cannot remove most fruit from such screws, at least until they have been pecked down considerably, especially if you remove the stalks of soft-fruited pears. Bananas are a bit too soft to remain there for long, however, as they are very popular with the Lewin's Honeyeaters, Bowerbirds and Currawongs. Watermelons are highly successful too, and with their firm rind, they last perfectly until all coloured flesh has been pecked away. At 99 cents per kilo, they are affordable bulk "bird food".

Lewin's Honeyeater with beak full of banana flesh.
The wind was very strong today, so the Bowerbirds did not come in for their late afternoon feeding frenzy today. So tomorrow morning we shall put out the remaining fruit again, and see how the Bowerbirds adapt to the new feeder.


mick said...

The new feeder is a beauty! Congrats to your brother on seeing the possibilities in a fallen tree branch! The Lewin's Honeyeater at the feeder is beautiful. I have recently seen them in my yard but they have not stayed long. I think there is not enough tall cover around here yet for them to feel comfortable.

Anonymous said...

That is fantastic, he had best patent it. Bet the birds are loving it

Gouldiae said...

G'day Denis,
A Lewin's your first visitor? That's well done in my book. Only ever get to hear them in deep dark gullies around here. I think Kevin Mcloud of Grand Designs,(, should know about your new feeder.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick and Anon.
Thanks both of you.
Brendan is pleased with the feedback.
Mick, the Lewins are a bit nervous, and do like protection (cover).
But they are slowly learning we are not any threat to them.
This morning several Currawongs and one "Blue Bird" (male Satin Bowerbird) have been in, and a Brush Wattlebird.
But it is still quite windy, and that upsets the younger Bowerbirds - the kindergarten class, as I call them).

Miss Eagle said...

I reckon there ought to be some sort of sign somewhere

Denis and Brendan's Dine in and Take away

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gouldiae
Many thanks for the "Grand Designs" comment.
Love it.
My brother might not realise you are being "tongue in cheek". I shall have to explain to him, gently!
Lewin's HE are actually regulars here, but quite nervous. The good thing about the new Feeder is that the birds have all these little branches to sit on, and lean over and peck at the fruit, so they feel very much at home.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Brigid
The birds tell eachother. No sign needed.
As for the "Take Away" part, that should be reserved for the Currawongs, as they can steal half a half of a banana in a single beakful.
I have had the lovely "Blue Bird" (male Satin Bowerbird) outside my window much of the afternoon.
Can't be bad!
Mind you the local vegetable growers hate them - too greedy!

Snail said...

Not wishing to feed any fraternal rivalry, but that is a splendid bird feeder.

I should steal the design. Plenty of timber around here (although it's mostly like honeycomb by the time it falls).