Birdlife Australia has a wonderful program called Birds in the Backyard.
It is a research, education and conservation program that was developed through concern that we are gradually losing small native birds from parks and gardens, through rapid expansion of cities, suburbs and towns.
One week of the year is set aside for the Aussie Backyard Bird Count. During this week, individuals can participate in collecting data by recording the birds we see, in twenty minute periods.
Birds can be recorded in our own backyard, a local park, a main street of a town, a beach, or a patch of forest….anywhere in Australia.
In 2018 Australians counted 2.7 million birds including 30 000 Rainbow Lorikeets.
The rise of Rainbow Lorikeets shows how the Aussie backyard has changed from the traditional European-style cottage gardens, to more native gardens.
Lorikeets are nectar-loving birds and like to forage on the flowers of Eucalypts, Bottle-brushes and Grevillias to harvest nectar and pollen.
My daughter and her family live in an inner city suburb in Melbourne. (Melbourne is the second biggest city in Australia.) It is a rapidly changing suburb from the original workers cottages to townhouses for a younger generation.
One constant in the suburb is the street trees. The streets we walk down regularly are lined with Bottle brushes and Eucalypts. It is a pleasure to walk to the coffee shop, and look at the gardens and the bird-laden trees and shrubs along the way.
Melbourne is well known for warm and inviting coffee shops too.
In the same suburb of Melbourne, the park and playing fields are lined with palm trees. I don’t know the history of these trees, but the Rainbow Lorikeets are feeding and nesting in them too, which show how adaptable they are. Lorikeets, are, unfortunately very bossy birds, and tend to dominate other species of birds.
The data collected from the Aussie Backyard Bird Count records the three top birds counted in every state in Australia that year.
The the top three birds counted in Canberra and surrounds (Australian Capital Territory) were……..The Australian Magpie
The second most recorded bird was the Crimson Rosella.
The currawong is a handsome looking bird, and flies into the garden with the precision of a jet pilot. Whip smart, he knows where to find water, and also little birds nesting in trees. Once the currawong arrives in the garden, the little birds disappear.
The bird count can make everyone feel a bit territorial and competitive about our favourite birds…
and here is a New South Wales Magpie…and she is putting on the Ritz…
However, the very young Canberra Magpie in the photo below began her early life in the courtyards of Parliament House, and is entertaining all the visitors with her beautiful birdsong. So she is a celebrity from day one!
At the end of the Backyard Bird Count week, we can vote for our favourite of the 50 most popular birds in Australia. (an impossible task of course)
This year I have voted for the Eastern Spinebill. This tiny little bird, with a mighty strong call, can be heard every autumn in our garden. He comes to the Peppermint Sage plant in our backyard regularly every year (in the uncertain natural world, this is a comfort). He competes with the bossy Wattlebird for food, and stands his ground. This is the Lion-heart of little birds.
In and around Canberra this spring there have been an abundance of smaller native birds which are unusual to Canberra (to me anyway). On my Canberra Wildlife Photography Facebook page, I have seen photos of Leaden Flycatchers, Rainbow Bee-Eaters, Sacred Kingfisher and a Rufus Songlark. Perhaps the drought is moving these birds closer to Canberra for the water and relatively easy food sources. They are very welcome.
I hope you have some sunshine, rain, plants and birds, where ever you are in the world. The joys of life!
Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.