Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, July 09, 2010

Birds on the Feeder

A friend of mine had planned to come over today, because I had told her about my Bowerbirds, and she said she had never seen one (presumably she means "up close enough to recognise"). I feel sure everybody in the Southern Highlands must have seen a Bowerbird at some stage, but perhaps not. Certainly in Robertson and other highlands villages close to the escarpment, they are common, and gardeners regard them as pests.
Anyway, this afternoon, on schedule the birds started coming in for the fruit platter on display on my back deck. This is the "Feeder" which my brother has built. Did I say he is very proud of how well it works?
Well, the first to arrive today was the "Blue Bird" - the adult male Satin Bowerbird. He was very wary of me, and so I had to use a long lens through a partially opened doorway, to get any sort of shot at all.
This green bird is more relaxed and less "flighty" than the Blue Bird.
This bird is a juvenile of indeterminate sex.
With a beak full of banana, it is lining up already for another grab.
Here we go!
Note the yellow gape, indicating its relatively young age.
Here is a Brush Wattlebird on a juicy piece of watermelon, on the feeder.
It is licking juice from the fruit, not "eating" the fruit.
Here it is, in heavily zoomed image, with its brush tongue out,
wiping over the fruit, to collect the juice.
When the larger birds are feeding, the Lewin's Honeyeater hangs around,
waiting for the table to be clear of the competition.
While it loses out in size, it makes up for it with persistence.
Anyway, if my friend does come over next week, I am sure there will be more Bowerbirds for her to see.


mick said...

The feeder is great and the birds it brings in are even better. Fascinating photo and observations of the Wattlebird licking the juice from the fruit rather than eating it. Do they ever actually eat the fruit?

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
Mostly the Wattlebirds lick the juice. Often they (all the Honeyeaters) will go in underneath the fruit, and lick where the juice runs out (remember each fruit is on a spike, to hold it in place).
Brendan has now taken to putting small plastic cups (cut down bases of drink bottles) to trap the juice from the Melons (which are really juicy). Often the Honeyeaters (including the Wattlebird) will drink from this shallow tray, rather than bother with the fruit itself.
Wattlebirds and the Lewin HE will both peck at the soft fruit - banana and melon, but once it starts to form a cup (after the "peckers" have done their work), then they are more interested in licking the juice which collects in those depressions.
Brendan says that at his house, where he has Lorikeets come to his feeder, the Red Wattlebirds will eat the small pieces of apple which the Lorikeets drop.
My birds are either lickers or peckers, but not "munchers" like Lorikeets apparently are. So there are not many crumbs of fruit.
Yesterday on Bowerbird stole a large piece of banana (longer than its own head) having grabbed it and twisted it and snapped it off. It then happily disappeared to a safe location to enjoy its stolen fruit.
Its hard to get any work done when there is so much activity outside (especially early mornings and late afternoons). Hard to ignore their activity, I mean.

Mark Young said...

How great to have Bowerbirds some to your house! They make a great distraction.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mark
The Bowerbirds certainly do make a great distraction.
The Bowerbirds are more-or-less constant, but the Brush Wattlebird is a newcomer. Amazingly aggressive for its size. It regularly attacks Bowerbirds, bu the experienced adult females stand their ground. Of course, the males only give way to Currawongs.
Hours of fun, watching it all take place right outside the Kitchen window.

Wilma said...

The green youngster is lovely. I really like the feeder design and the additions and changes you and Brendan have made. You have given me lots of ideas for us to try out in Belize!


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Wilma
My only piece of firm advice would be to match your food to the types of birds you wish to encourage, and avoid the types of food preferred by the annoying birds.
For example, I never provide seed, as it brings sparrows, and the occasional Myna Bird ("Common Myna") - all introduced birds here.
In Belize you probably would have hummingbirds, and I understand they love nectar which can be delivered via red-coloured bird feeders available via the Audubon Society, etc. I see you already have such things in Rochester, along with Raccoons!.
We have a small Honeyeater here, The Eastern Spinebill, which acts just like your Hummingbirds, but it has never come to my fruit. Not once. They are used to sucking nectar from flowers.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this informative page. I only recently moved to the highlands and have ALOT of these birds in my garden - usually with a few pairs of king parrots. I suspected they were bower birds but yours is the first photo I have come across to match exactly. I look forward to learning more about the amazing are we live in.

BTW, this is my first ever participation in anything like this!


Denis Wilson said...

Sorry for the delayed reply.
Welcome to the highlands, and to my Blog.
It has been going for 5 years now, so there is quite a lot of local information there now - plant, moths and birds, and Wombats and Wallabies of course.
Bowerbirds are very common in the Sthn Highlands, which is good - unless you like growing fruit and vegetables and flowers.