Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Bird Feeders in the Garden

Australian King-Parrot
Should we feed native birds in our Australian gardens? I am often asked this question. It's a controversial issue but I reply in the affirmative, within reason. I see no harm and some good in the practice. It can supplement wild food sources in lean times and I think there is considerable merit in this kind of interaction between people and wild birds.
I have two types of bird feeder in my Sunshine Coast garden (above and below).

I put out relatively small quantities of mixed bird seed but generally no more than once a week - too much of a good thing is not good.

My Sunshine Coast Garden
I don't leave meat out for the likes of currawongs, kookaburras and butcherbirds. These predatory birds are already doing very well in the suburbs and increasing their food supply helps boost populations further. The losers will be smaller birds; their nestlings and eggs are much sought after by predators.

Pale-headed Rosella
Nine species of bird regularly attend my garden feeders: four parrots (Australian King-Parrot, Galah, Rainbow Lorikeet, Pale-headed Rosella); four pigeons (White-headed Pigeon, Crested Pigeon, Bar-shouldered Dove, Spotted Dove) and Red-browed Finch. Rare visitors to the feeders include Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Peaceful Dove, Emerald Dove, Wonga Pigeon and Double-barred Finch.

Rainbow Lorikeet
The feeders I use have roofs, important for keeping moisture out of the seed. Seed is most often in demand in the cooler and drier months when natural food sources are more stressed. It is important for feeders not to be too close to thick vegetation, which could provide cover for cats. Birdbaths should be placed near feeders; I find that birds visiting seed feeders drink frequently from adjacent birdbaths.

Bar-shouldered Dove
Doves prefer feeding on the ground so I scatter a bit of seed below the feeders. I don't encourage the introduced Spotted Dove but there's not much I can do about them; they are solidly outnumbered by native Bar-shouldereds around here anyway.

Crested Pigeon
Large bags of mixed bird seed can be purchased at supermarkets at reasonable prices. The seed will cater for all sizes and types of birds - for instance, Red-browed Finches feed on tiny seeds while Australian King-Parrots like corn; both seed types are in the mix.

White-headed Pigeon
I have as many as 12 White-headed Pigeons at the feeder at one time. This species is primarily a rainforest fruit-eater, but it is very partial to seed at certain times of the year.

Spotted Dove
There are plenty of types of feeder on the market (see here for instance); look around and pick whatever takes your fancy. Of course, the best way of attracting native birds to your garden is by planting as many native trees and shrubs as you can.

Red-browed Finch
Emerald Dove
Birds aside, two mammal species regularly indulge themselves at the feeders - Short-eared Brushtail and Common Brushtail possums; see here for notes on how these two behave differently at the feeders. Sometimes the brushtails are a bit of a nuisance, hoovering out all the seed during the night and leaving nothing for the morning. I've tried various strategies to address this without success.

Short-eared Brushtail

Common Brushtail

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed this one Greg. I too have a feeder but no where near the number of species as you. Crested Pigeons, Pale-headed Rosellas come to seed I put out for our one and only Miss Emily (a chook). However, sometimes the Rainbow Lorikeet don't mind a bit of seed.