FEBRUARY 2021 GARDEN BIRDS

There are a few mysteries about the avian visitors to our garden that have had me puzzled this month. Among them are: why are the apples I have put out been pecked at only a few times and then left to shrivel? I have tried two different kinds (both have been tasty and juicy for me); why am I seeing ever fewer Village Weavers – are the Southern Masked Weavers finally taking over this territory? Where have the Speckled Mousebirds gone? I hear both Olive Thrushes and Cape Robin-chats in the shrubbery and yet see very little of them in the feeding area. Common Starlings pop in only every now and then; and the Black-headed Orioles very seldom visit the nectar feeder … Drought cannot be the only answer, for I provide fresh water daily; the seed is replenished daily and I regularly replenish any other food I happen to put out.

Such questions continue to mull over in my mind as I settle to watch birds every morning and as often as I can during the afternoon. February is a time of change: our weather remains very hot albeit with increasingly cooler days between; leaves on the deciduous trees are yellowing, turning brown and float to the ground in the slightest breeze; thin layers of cloud arrive – some even tower up enticingly high on the horizon to catch the pinkish light of the setting sun, yet hardly any rain worth mentioning has fallen. The Common Fiscals and Southern Masked Weavers are still feeding their impatient young; the Lesser-striped Swallows have mostly disappeared and the White-rumped Swifts will be off before long.

The Cape White-eyes continue to provide joy as they visit the nectar feeder often and work their way through the shrubbery.

I had a magnificent view of an African Harrier-Hawk flying low over our garden for two days in a row. On the first occasion I was alerted to its presence by the birds I was watching disappearing in a whoosh of feathers and dust as they sought shelter in the surrounding trees and shrubs. The following day I watched as a pair of Red winged Starlings escorted it out of ‘their’ airspace.

A pair of Hadeda Ibises regularly forage through the leaf litter in the garden – very quietly for such large birds until something gives them a fright and they soar away with loud ‘ha-ha-hadeda’ sounds.

Having had another eye operation this month has made using binoculars impossible, nor can I use my usual spectacles with any confidence yet, so my identification of this as a Forest Canary may be way off and I am happy for it to be placed into its correct ‘box’:

My bird list for February contains both the regulars as well as some new arrivals:

African Green Pigeon
African Harrier-Hawk
Bar-throated Apalis
Black-collared Barbet
Black-eyed Bulbul
Black-headed Oriole
Bronze Mannikin
Cape Crow
Cape Glossy Starling
Cape Robin-Chat
Cape Weaver
Cape White-eye
Cattle Egret
Common Fiscal
Common Starling
Fiery-necked Nightjar
Forest Canary
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Green Woodhoopoe
Grey-headed Sparrow
Hadeda Ibis
Klaas’s Cuckoo
Knysna Turaco
Laughing Dove
Lesser-striped Swallow
Long-billed Crombec
Olive Thrush
Pied Crow
Pin-tailed Whydah
Red-eyed Dove
Red-winged Starling
Sacred Ibis
Southern Boubou
Southern Masked Weaver
Speckled Pigeon
Streaky-headed Seedeater
Village Weaver
White-rumped Swift
Yellow-fronted Canary

25 thoughts on “FEBRUARY 2021 GARDEN BIRDS

  1. Beautiful photos, Anne, and you’re spot on with your ID of the Forest Canary. I hope your eye is healing well after the operation?

    Your observations, or lack of in the case of certain species, are most intriguing and quite familiar too – I’ve stopped putting fruit out at our tray after the peaches and apples have attracted no interest at all of late, when a few weeks ago it felt as though I couldn’t provide enough.

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  2. That Forest canary is a special sighting – I saw one near our home in Mossel Bay last year, my previous sighting was 10 years to the day before that. Probably not that scarce but they tend to remain secretive
    I’ve also noticed several species ‘missing’ from our garden during February but have found them elsewhere while atlasing in the area – perhaps due to food availability and end of breeding would be my guess

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    • Thank you for this interesting observation, Don. Between you and Dries I can confidently add Forest Canary to my garden list. I am also glad to know that I am not the only one ‘missing’ birds and your explanation makes a lot of sense.

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  3. Long list! I, too, notice in August (our late summer), the change in birds, so it must be a winter range kind of thing. Not just the migrants that obviously head far afield, but even the residents seem to move territory as well.
    Hope your eye continues to heal well. Eyesight is so precious!

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  4. As we would say in Maine, that is some list. A puzzle, sometimes, when birds stay. A similar thing happened here this winter, but now that spring is coming, more birds are coming. Glad to read in your comments that your eyes are healing well albeit slowly. May the healing continue!

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  5. An interesting list of visitors. We also notice erratic seasonal fluctuations. I should keep notes in case I might see any patterns …
    We find more species visiting in the late autumn and winter months. Perhaps more food and breeding grounds draw some species elsewhere in the summer?
    I do hope that you recover speedily from the eye procedure and your sight returns to normal asap.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I find my monthly bird lists useful in this regard for it isn’t always easy to remember when last I saw a bird and am left wondering when I realise that particular species hasn’t been around for a while.

      Liked by 2 people

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