Canberra’s summer ends, farewell to the Eastern Koel…

The shadows of the trees are longer in the evening light, the air is cooler, and sweeter..

…autumn is on its way.

The lovely green (watered) lawns of Lennox Gardens are deceiving, after this long hot summer, the landscape  of Canberra is looking very dry.

At the end of summer there is a changing of the guard with our local birds.

In autumn the tiny Silver-Eyes venture out to feed from our neighbour’s blackberry bushes. They are a welcome sight.




Perhaps as a result of so little rain this last month, more birds are flying into the garden to use our birdbaths.

This morning while we were having breakfast on the deck, it was fun to see two young Crimson Rosellas, always shy birds, having the big birdbath to themselves.

What a thrill, bathing in the water, and having  a shower from the sprinkler.

As these two finished their bath, they flew up to the archway in the garden, their long tails spraying water as they flew…a lovely sight. Unfortunately I was unable to catch it with my camera, but here is a similar one, taken almost exactly a year ago!

Young Crimson Rosellas begin life with green feathers mixed in with red and blue, last year’s Rosella is still very green in colour.

Here is a mature Crimson Rosella in the Australian Botanic Gardens… just look how vivid his colours are, and how long his tail is. What a handsome bird!

Fully grown Crimson Rosella at the Australian Botanic Gardens.

In summer we have three Magpies visiting every morning.  Every year there is at least one Magpie who loves water just a little bit more than the others. Often the youngest one potters around the garden by himself in autumn, a little bit like the youngest member of the family, we enjoy his company….before he too, leaves to join a new group of Magpies.

The youngest Magpie, lingering in the water..

Here is a young Magpie watching her mother, who has her head tilted listening for insects and grubs in the grass and in the ground. Another youngster, learning her survival skills.

An unwelcome guest in our neighbourhood in summer is the Eastern Koel. This bird migrates all the way from tropical New Guinea to Australia for the breeding season. In recent years the Koel has progressed further south each year.

The male Eastern Koel
The juvenile Eastern Koel

The Eastern Koel is a member of the  cuckoo family. The female lays an egg in the nest of another bird, (usually a Red Wattlebird) and when the baby Koel hatches it pushes the other eggs out of the nest.

For the past three years a Koel pair have visited a neighbourhood garden, left an egg in the Red Wattle bird’s nest, and moved away.

All through the summer, a pair of Red Wattlebirds  are the hosts, and the young Koel cheeps incessantly while the significantly  smaller parents desperately  search for food for the nagging youngster. During the summer the young Koel grows to twice their size.

The Red Wattle Bird feeding from a Bottlebrush bush.

According to Birdlife Australia, it is still uncertain as to why the Koel comes so far south to breed, perhaps because the weather is warmer, the berries and fruits are in abundance in Canberra, and also the poor unsuspecting Red Wattle birds have lived in this region for a long time, and have proved to be excellent parents.

The Red Wattle bird looking slightly annoyed, and with good reason!

Unfortunately the cheeping, beeping young Koel seems to nest near our garden every year, but finally in autumn it disappears, fully grown. (Phew!)

However, one of the most welcome bird calls in autumn is the Eastern Spinebill.

Yesterday this tiny delicate bird arrived on the deck, and with a powerful call, it settled into feeding from the fuchsia. Autumn has truly arrived!

The Eastern Spinebill favours the flowers from the Peppermint Sage, but, this year, either he is early or the flowers are late, so I have used a photo from last year.

The Eastern Spinebill feeding from the flowers of the Peppermint Sage.

Canberra also has its birthday in March, so there are lots of concerts, picnics, hot air balloons,  and general outdoor gatherings. It is a wonderful time to catch up with family and friends.

I hope you are enjoying your changing seasons, where ever you are in the world.

The best birthday present for Canberra’s autumn would be good soaking rain for a sustained period of time. Crossing fingers for that.


Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved





21 Replies to “Canberra’s summer ends, farewell to the Eastern Koel…”

  1. What beautiful birds you have in your garden, Gerrie. The Rosellas are so colourful and the tail feathers of the Kiel are so impressive. My favourite though, is the tiny cute silver-eye. Hope you get some rain soon. Enjoy the start of your cooler weather. Autumn is a lovely season.

  2. A wonderful report on tranquility again, Geraldine. It must be rather nice to have autumn and spring. Up here in the tropics we seem to launch straight from summer into winter – with a few little stop start considerations in between – if we are lucky.

    1. Autumn is lovely but there is always the feeling of winter coming, and you don’t have to dread your winter!(probably your best growing time.

  3. I do hope you get the rain you need so badly. I especially enjoyed the Crimson Rosella photographs. I remember them well from visiting friends in Sydney many years ago.

  4. I, too, hope you get the rain you need so badly. Happy, happy birthday to Canberra! The Crimson Rosellas are simply gorgeous. What a delight it must be to see them in your garden. Have a wonderful autumn. Spring is coming our way, but she is not here yet.

    1. Thanks Laurie, both for the birthday wishes for Canberra for the rain hopes. Hope spring is around the corner for you.

  5. I hope you get rain, too! You have so many beautiful birds in your garden and your photographs are wonderful! We have had two weeks of incessant high winds and gales. Some rain but not enough to fill our pond yet.

    1. Thanks Clare I enjoy taking photos of the birds in the garden. I hope your high winds and gales have eased, that would be exhausting for two weeks.

  6. Thank you for the information on the Eastern Koel. We enjoy the call of the mature Koels but didn’t realise they had a dark side.


    1. Yes, the adult male has a striking call. I was also surprised at their life cycle…thanks to Birdlife Australia.

  7. Happy Birthday Canberra and I wish for a nice long rain as a present. 🙂 Your beautiful birds always amaze me. I cannot even imagine sharing a garden with those gorgeous creatures, even the unique ones. Here’s hoping you have a lovely and wet fall.

    1. Thanks Judy, it is nice to show some of the Aussie birds. We had rain last night, and that was a wonderful birthday gift.

  8. How I enjoyed this post, you do have such a wonderful variety of interesting birds. A treat for me!The rosella in our rescue is a brute, it loves to attack the staff, but is thriving. The koel does sound problematic, we have cuckoos here, I always have mixed feeling about them. Loved silver-eyes! Here’s to you getting plenty of

    1. I haven’t shown the Silver Eyes, they are really hard to photograph, but the Red Wattles have featured occasionally, they are frequent visitors to our garden.

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