The Common Fiscal gets a bad rap from many gardeners and tend to be ignored by the average person who sees one in passing. A pair of Common Fiscals were our first visitors once we had settled in at the Mountain Zebra National Park. We had no sooner put together a picnic lunch when the first one perched on a twig above us. While it observed our fare, it was joined by another. Without being bothersome, both were quick to pick up anything that messed on the table – such as a crumb of cheese. Both arrived, one after the other, at every outside meal we enjoyed. The way they behaved gave the clear impression of them being a pair.

Two Common Fiscals visit our garden. The ringed one has been observed here for several years and  has often featured in my blog. I have been aware of an un-ringed visitor for a year or two, but haven’t taken much notice of either of them until the restrictions of the pandemic encouraged me to observe our avian visitors more closely. The ringed one tends to fly straight in, grab what is edible, and fly off – especially now as there appear to be youngsters to be fed. While it isn’t unduly aggressive, it is ‘business-like’ and expects to have its way on the feeding table. Both fiscals are adept at varying their route back to their respective nests.

I say ‘respective nests’ without having seen either. This is because they do not give the impression of being a pair: the ringed one has been seen dive-bombing the un-ringed one off the feeding tray, and they have had some loud slanging matches in the branches – ending with both flying off in different directions.

The un-ringed Common Fiscal is less aggressive. It perches on a high branch and observes the birds feeding below and waits for an opportune moment to pick up what it needs. I call it the Friendly Fiscal for, over the past few months, it has becoming bolder in its approach: perching just above where we are having tea and even dropping down for a titbit. Ever bolder, it began perching on the edge of a flower pot right next to my chair while I breakfasted outdoors.

On more than one occasion it has perched on the edge of my plate (on a stool next to me) to peck at whatever was there. Once, it inspected a plate of lunch left on a chair while my husband went indoors to collect his hat.

It now often sits on the edge of the table with an expectant look in its eye.

On a particularly chilly morning this Friendly Fiscal perched on the end of my shoe and looked up at me. I had no titbit to offer it, so it began tugging at my sock as if to say “What about me?” I collected a tiny piece of meat which it took gently from my hand. It now often takes food from my hand!

Yesterday – our first beautifully warm day for a while – I was having tea in the garden when the Friendly Fiscal perched on my toe!

As you can tell, I am becoming very fond of this fiscal – Common or not!

31 thoughts on “FRIENDLY FISCAL

    • It is very dapper looking in its black and white outfit. As you can tell, I have grown rather fond of this particular one – although both are proving to be interesting to watch more closely than I have in the past.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Anne,
    I’m very much enjoying reading your blog. I live in the UK and came across it whilst googling the price of Co-op Earl Grey tea bags!
    For several years I lived in the hills of SW Uganda and also enjoyed all the birds there, several of which are in your blog. I took my camera everywhere with me and got many good photos of birds – much easier than in the UK! I had a few routes which were particularly good for bird spotting and would regularly go out after work.
    I shall look forward to many more to come!


    • Hello Rosie – you will be welcome here. It is a good feeling to become re-acquainted with familiar birds and, of course, a number of the ones in South Africa are also present north of our borders. The Earl Grey you mention was a gift – delicious they were too. We do not get much variety in tea here unless we go to specialist tea merchants.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Strangely enough, only the ringless one has proved to be so friendly. We have since discovered that our neighbours have also developed a trusting relationship with it so that it eats out of their hands too!


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