The Streaky-headed Seedeater is not a bird that calls attention to itself, for its colouring is a dullish brown.
The most striking aspect of its outfit is the clearly marked pale eyebrow.
This is a species that has only come into our garden regularly during the last five or six years. As they are usually found in woodland, thickets and dense scrub, I suspect it is the drought that has attracted them to suburbia on a more regular basis.
Even so, I hear their whistled ‘tsee-weet’ call more frequently than I actually see these birds.
They avoid the main feeding frenzy of the early morning, preferring not to compete with the weavers on the feeders or the doves on the ground. This makes them fairly difficult subjects to photograph, so I have left the best portrait for last.
Here is a closer look at some of the regular visitors to our garden:
I have posted about them before, yet I think these lovely birds need another airing as it were. Their name, Streaky-headed Seed-eater (Crithagra gularis) is is very apt for they have a streaky head and eat seeds. That said, the subtle beauty of this otherwise fairly nondescript little bird grows on one and closer observation reveals a number of interesting traits. The streaky head is easy to identify for it has a long white eyebrow and pale streaks on top of head.
I have come to enjoy their presence enormously. Their natural habitat is open woodland and scrub as well as gardens and my rather unkempt garden happily falls into this description. For many years they mainly occupied the back garden, where they visited the patches of grass I leave to go to seed. Once they discovered the fine seed in the bird feeders in the front garden, there is a pair that has become regular visitors. This one is inspecting Morrigan’s ‘bench’ feeder.
They often eat the seeds that fall to the ground too, although at this level they have to compete with a flock of Laughing Doves and a variety of weavers.
I enjoy their sweet whistling sound. The soft ‘trreet, trreet’ seems as if they are saying ‘miss you, miss you’. This one is looking a little quizzical.
While it soon becomes coy and seems a little shy of all the attention from my camera.
The traditional calendar notwithstanding – nor the fluctuations in temperature between very cold and fairly summery – the birds seem to know a thing or two about when to court, when to breed, and when spring is on its way. The Olive Thrushes, usually quick to see what is on offer, have been more furtive of late. Instead of eating their fill, drinking or bathing afterwards and then perching on a nearby branch until they are ready for the next round, two of them arrive one after the other – disappearing in different directions – to gobble what they can and then carry off bits of food to their nest. I think one is located in our bottom ‘wild’ garden but am disinclined to disturb them. The other day an Olive Thrush took a dislike to a Speckled Pigeon right across the garden for no apparent reason.
Laughing Doves court throughout the year. I counted twenty-six of them the other day – and have yet to come across a single nest!
The yellow beaks of the Common Starlings are an indication that they are also in breeding mode.
There are two Common Fiscals that arrive separately every day – distinguishable only because one has been ringed.
A female Greater Double-collared Sunbird has spent about four days gathering tiny fragments of lichen, small feathers, and even soft grass seeds with which to line her nest – which is possibly in the hedge between us and our neighbours – while Mr Sunbird drinks his fill at the nectar feeder and makes loud territorial noises from on high in the Erythrina tree in the back garden.
The Streakyheaded Seedeaters always arrive as a pair.
Most of the Village Weavers and Southern Masked Weavers are looking a little worse for wear at the moment as they are growing into their breeding plumage.
One Cape Weaver has already built a nest in the side garden, while others arrive with strips of reed leaves in their beaks only to drop them when they tuck into the seeds for a meal.
Here you can see the difference in the shape of the beak of a Blackcollared Barbet and a Black-eyed Bulbul as they feed on cut apples.
Speckled Mousebirds perch patiently in the shrubbery for an opportunity to come down to eat the fruit.
My July bird list is:
African Green Pigeon
Cape Glossy Starling
Cape Turtle Dove
Greater Double-collared Sunbird