GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FOOD

One needs to get a firm grip on one’s food if you are not going to miss it – or fall off your perch. You can tell birds were not consulted when this feeder was designed. I need to get a good grip here by holding onto the grid as there isn’t much space for two feet.

Village Weaver

Landing can be rather awkward – even if you are a tad more elegantly proportioned. At least we can be more comfortably seated for snacking once that has been accomplished.

Bronze Mannikins

This is an elegant way to perch.

Village Weaver

Actually eating is not always comfortable though.

Southern Masked Weaver

STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER

Two years ago I voiced my dissatisfaction at the name change of the Streaky-headed Canary to Streaky-headed Seedeater (Crithagra gularis) and yet this new name now glides off my tongue with ease. It is a matter of using it and getting used to it! A pair of these birds has been seen in the garden over a number of years, oddly enough mostly around the back – away from the feeders where so many birds congregate. They would sometimes come round to the front garden to forage on seeds that had been spilled on the ground and were quick to flit into the shrubbery when other birds arrived. No more! Whether it is the same pair or a bolder one, the Streaky-headed Seedeaters are now regular visitors to the feeders in the front garden.

They are often the first to arrive if I fill the feeders early in the morning and are no longer shy about taking their share both at the feeders and on the ground.

 

HUNGRY WEAVERS

Weavers commonly feed on grass seeds on the ground in the wild or are seen clinging to stalks of grass to nibble on the seed heads. As part of their adaptation to suburban life, however, they have learned to spy out differently packaged sources of food – such as the seeds in the hanging feeder. Their conical beaks enable them to easily extract the seeds from the narrow opening – although they are such messy eaters that a lot of seeds fall to the ground, where they are eaten by Laughing Doves, Red-eyed Doves, Speckled Pigeons, and Pin-tailed Whydahs. I have observed that no more than three weavers can eat from this particular feeder at one time, and preferably only two. This is because it appears that they do not like to share their space, in the sense of seeing another weaver eating next to them. A lot of scrapping and arguments frequently take place – causing even more seed to fall!

A Village Weaver and a Cape Weaver feed opposite each other.

 

The Village Weaver constantly looks round whilst feeding – checking on possible foes or competition?

 

A Village Weaver holding on precariously – he is probably used to this position from nest-building.

A NEW FEEDER

I have been meaning to introduce you to the new bird feeder which nine-year-old Morrigan made a while ago. It did not take long for birds to find it once she had attached it to a branch of the acacia tree. As you can see, although the Bronze Manikins often forage on the ground, they find it a very comfortable place to gather for their communal feeding!

bird feeder

The Yellow-fronted Canaries are also happy with the new arrangement.

bird feeder

JUNE 2014 GARDEN BIRDS

JUNE 2014 GARDEN BIRDS

It was the resident flock of Laughing Doves that ‘flew’ onto my bird list first this month. I find them fascinating to watch and have discovered they are not without wit either.

When the seed I had scattered on the ground had been gobbled up by all and sundry, I once observed a Laughing Dove edge ever closer to the bird feeder frequented by the weavers, Bronze Manikins and canaries. After days of trial and error, a Laughing Dove at last managed to get a grip for long enough to grab a seed or two from the now wildly swinging feeder. Practise makes perfect and within a few days one dove at least could balance on the edge for long enough to get some satisfaction from that source of seeds.

Several weeks later I saw two frenzied flapping Laughing doves clinging onto the feeder to extract as many seeds as they could before losing their balance. This is not a regular occurrence and so they may have been two particularly innovative birds.

It is interesting watching the Laughing Doves having a dust bath and then sitting on the ground with their wings fanned out. Sometimes one will lift a wing so that it sticks up and then lift the other. They frequently sit very close together when doing this.

There is obviously safety in numbers as far as they are concerned. A brief period of cautious waiting usually follows after I have scattered seed on the lawn. I have learned to be patient and watch as the doves first gather in the jacaranda tree on the pavement and then gradually edge closer through the trees to the branches of the acacia tree, which is closest to the food. It takes one dove – either brave enough or very hungry – to flutter down to begin the feast. Then the others descend en masse, initially feeding as closely together as possible before fanning out to find seed on the fringes.

Cattle Egrets were the last on my list this month. Newcomers are the Southern Black Tit, which I only see in our garden at this time of the year and – to my great excitement – a Cape Glossy Starling.

I happened to look out of my study window and there it was in all its shining glory in the Erythrina tree! This is a bird I have always associated with the Kruger National Park especially, although I also enjoy seeing them in the Addo Elephant National Park.

My June list is:

Barthroated Apalis
Black Crow
Black Sunbird (Amethyst)
Blackcollared Barbet
Blackeyed Bulbul
Blackheaded Oriole
Bokmakierie
Boubou Shrike
Bronze Manikin
Cape Glossy Starling
Cape Robin
Cape Turtle Dove
Cape Weaver
Cape White-eye
Cardinal Woodpecker
Cattle Egret
Crowned Plover
Forktailed Drongo
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Greyheaded Sparrow
Hadeda Ibis
Klaas’ Cuckoo
Laughing Dove
Olive Thrush
Redbilled Woodhoopoe
Redeyed Dove
Redwinged Starling
Rock Pigeon
Southern Black Tit
Speckled Mousebird
Village Weaver
Yellow Canary

An update for those who remain interested in the welfare of Daisy the Tortoise: having disappeared for several days, Daisy seems to have found a new sunny spot near the pool pump house and looks very contented.

Laughing dove side view