Backyard Bird life

When we built our previous house on a large piece of partly cleared land in a bushland setting there was a lot of native vegetation and undergrowth and we were delighted that we had quite a few species of birds, including lots of small birds such as wrens, finches and honeyeaters. So we planted lots of grevilleas and other flowering natives to attract more of them but, alas, we succeeded in attracting hoards of Noisy Miners, known as Mickeys in these parts. Mickeys have a pleasant enough range of calls but they are aggressive birds and it wasn’t long before all the little birds had gone. We got lots of lorikeets too, which was some consolation. Strangely, we never saw a Blue Faced Honeyeater in our yard (the largest of the honeyeaters) although we used to see them in other yards no more than a couple of hundred metres from our place. We had lots of food for them but they never came.

We were most fortunate, though, in having a pair of Whip Birds, and their offspring from time to time, which entertained us every morning beneath our bedroom window with their antics and their repertoire of different sounds, as well as the familiar whistle and whip crack. The thing most people don’t know about Whip Birds is that they are low dwellers and spend most of their time on the ground and in the low branches of trees and shrubs. The whip crack sound with which we are so familiar always seems to be coming from way up in the tree tops and we tend to look up there in the hope of seeing him when, in fact, it’s coming from ground level. That is why few people have ever seen a Whip Bird. We had a bird bath outside our home office window and often used to watch them bathing, always in pairs and, as with all birds, they had their own peculiar style of going about it. It was the highlight of my day.

We also had Cat Birds. Most of our visitors had never heard of them, let alone seen one and it was always amusing to watch the looks on their faces when that unique wailing sound would suddenly pierce the air during lunch or drinks on the deck. It wore a bit thin, though, when one of them was trying to attract a mate and thought he could see her in the reflection of one of our windows. He would wake us up at about 5.00 am sitting in a tree crying out and flying at this particular window for an hour or so at a time. After a few days of this we covered the window with paper so he couldn’t see his reflection and went elsewhere.

We’ve since moved house and now live in a more suburban type location and, although it’s only a couple of kilometres from the old place and we’re growing much the same types of flowering trees and shrubs as before, the bird life is quite different. We do get the Blue Faced Honeyeater now, though.Noel Williams loves anything to do with gardening, outdoor living and wild life and is passionate about birds.

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