We first noticed the arrival of a pair of turtle doves on our property around three years ago. Since I knew the species isn’t native to Tasmania I wondered where they’d come from. Their distinctive cooing call reminded me of visits to my grandmother’s home in the south of England when growing up. The birds weren’t common in the North, or not where we lived anyway, so hearing the gentle coo coo always takes me back to the lush rural landscape of Highclere, in the UK.
Nowadays though that pair of turtle doves has grown to over 20 birds, so as well as being successful in the breeding department, they’ve clearly worked out where their bread is buttered. Or where there’s likely to be a feed of grain. It no doubt comes with having a few chooks, and the doves – along with various parrots, eastern rosellas and sparrows – have clocked on to when breakfast is served at our place.
Finding food in winter is always a challenge for many bird species, especially those who rely on seeds, flowers or insects for their sustenance. These are all scarce during the colder months, but even so we can’t remember quite so many birds turning up at chook meal times before.
I’m conflicted about feeding wild birds regularly, although have been obliged to turn a blind eye to John feeding the small troupe of magpies on a daily basis. We inherited the magpies with the property thanks to the previous owner feeding them. At least I’ve encouraged him to reduce their feeds to once a day rather than two.
But as it’s winter, and recognising finding food is tough, we’ve relented enough this year to buy a bag of seed designed for wild birds. To be honest it looks pretty similar to the mixed grain ‘muesli’ seed the chooks have, but at the moment after I’ve walked Della dog, I now juggle two containers of grain in my hands each morning. One for the chooks, and another for the doves, sparrows and rosellas that are swinging on the wire and waiting patiently and optimistically for their share. At least there’s no squabbling and they all seem quite happy to mingle as they peck away.
Humans could learn a lot from their behaviour.
It seems to be the season for wildlife rescues. The rescued green and gold frog is doing nicely and remains happily ensconced in his new bathtub home with his larger companion. We assume he must be much more relaxed and comfortable with life as he no longer jumps into the water the moment we walk by. All good there.
The latest rescue was an eastern rosella who made me jump when it crashed into my office window a few days ago. Birds have a habit of doing this, at certain times of the year especially, but I can’t ever remember a rosella doing so before. The windows weren’t even that clean! Plus most are adorned with discreet but rather attractive butterfly transfers – possibly placed there by previous owners as an optimistic deterrent to just this situation. If so it hasn’t worked too well!
Over the years several birds have either suicided flying into some of the windows in this house, or given themselves a very nasty headache before apparently recovering and flying off. The rosella was still alive, but undoubtedly suffering when I rushed out to check. He was on his back and very distressed even after I righted him. He was in no hurry to fly off either poor fellow but it was impossible to tell if he had injured himself internally.
I picked him up and sat outside on the deck with him perched on my knees while he panted and shook from shock and fright. Even so he was content to sit placidly and thankfully made no attempt to peck me with his small but powerful beak. It was rather a privilege to be so close to such a magnificently plumed bird and to study him quietly while he recovered. So light and so fragile and yet so graceful when in the air.
Thankfully Ross the rosella did eventually recover but it took the best part of 30 minutes during which time he did make rather a mess of my clothes. I took this as a good sign and that he was getting over the shock, and what the heck, they were due to be washed anyway.
He followed up by pooing in the water container I eventually brought out, thinking he might welcome a drink. He declined though, then declined any further contact with me. A good sign I thought and totally fine by me as it indicated he really was going to be OK. Sure enough he soon hopped to the edge of the deck and then half flew onto the driveway and then rather unsteadily into the magnolia tree.
I followed just to make sure he wasn’t still a bit wobbly, but no he had his confidence back and soon flew to another tree at the end of the driveway and then off. Hopefully he’s learned a lesson and won’t fly into windows again.