I live in an outer eastern suburb of Melbourne and for sheer numbers of
birds the Red-browed Firetail outnumbers even the introduced birds in my
backyard. Admittedly theres a reserve not far from my house and I do supply
seed for the birds but not in large amounts and not enough to sustain them
soley on the seed I supply.
Despite the presence of a neighbours cat the birds persist (although a few
well aimed rocks seem to have discouraged the cats somewhat).
From: Peter Woodall <>
Date: Wednesday, November 19, 1997 11:29 AM
Subject: Re: Garden Birds
>At 16:43 18/11/97 +0800, you wrote:
>>The question was asked :
>>> Why does Harare have many native seed-eaters coming into the gardens,
>>> while very few of the Australian finches do?
>>Perhaps because very few Australian gardens have native seeds????
>>I am aware of the following finches that can be common (or at least
>>regular) in suitable gardens, although in some cases it is more for the
>>water than the seed. In most cases, the houses border onto suitable
>>Red-browed Finch - O'Reilly's Qld; Phillip Island Vic
>>Red-eared Firetail - Albany WA
>>Star Finch - Kununurra WA; Paraburdoo WA
>>Crimson Finch - Kununurra WA
>>Zebra Finch - many places
>>Double-barred Finch - Kununurra WA; Argyle Diamond Mine WA
>>Masked Finch - Lake Argyle WA
>>Long-tailed Finch - Lake Argyle WA
>>Chestnut-breasted Mannikin - Kununurra WA
>>Nutmeg Mannikin (introduced) - Cairns Qld
>>Gouldian Finch - Wyndham WA; Timber Creek NT
>Thanks for your input. I don't know much about the garden birds
>of WA. I wonder what the situation is like in a big city like
>Perth? Are any native seedeaters common in the suburbs there?
>I don't think that its any lack of seeds, native or otherwise, that
> keeps them out of Brisbane - the House Sparrows and
>Spotted Turtle-doves (and more recently Crested Pigeons) do very
>well in suburban Brisbane and my (untidy) garden in Brisbane has
>no fewer seeding grasses than did our garden in Harare. Certainly
>on the fringes of Brisbane (like the University farm) Bar-shouldered
>and Peaceful Doves come down to grain but in the suburbs its: sparrows,
>sparrows, turtle-doves, plus a few more sparrows. [Unless of course
>you have Noisy Miners ,.... but thats another story]
>Your list of species shows that there are plenty of native seedeaters
>around (not to mention the doves, etc) which sometimes venture into
>gardens but my point is that in most suburbs they are not a common,
>dominant part of the garden bird fauna - unlike the situation in
>On another point, Ronald beat me to the punch with the indigo birds.
>They were a real taxonomic problem until Payne realised that the
>different species had distinctive species recognition songs, learnt
>from their hosts. The palate markings of the nestlings also closely
>mimic those of their hosts.
>Dr Peter Woodall email =
>Division of Pathobiology
>School of Veterinary Science Phone = +61 7 3365 2300
>The University of Queensland Fax = +61 7 3365 1355
>Brisbane, Qld, Australia 4072 WWW =
>"hamba phezulu" (= "go higher" in isiZulu)