Three years ago, a self-sown (probably bird-sown) tree sprang up in
the back yard, seemingly a Sorbus sp. Anyhow, this summer it
bore a prolific crop. Clusters of berries turned red and eventually
purple, if the birds left them alone, which they mostly didn't.
The berry tree is a bird-magnet par excellence, and it's just eight metres
out from the kitchen window. Silvereyes were the first to partake, and it was
amusing to watch them struggling to open their bills wide enough to
accommodate the fruit. But, after a short while, they moved on. There was
probably other, more easily ingestible food available to them at this time
of year. Male Common Blackbirds arrived, at times there was a trey in the
tree, until a thrush fracas erupted and one or two flushed.
Come Friday morning (1 February), a very dowdy, brown Common Blackbird
visited. As we watched, we noticed its yellow gape and concluded it was an
immature bird. Then, right on cue, just for comparison, another brown, but
slightly richer-hued Common Blackbird landed in the tree, and we believe it was
a mature female. We saw a female blackbird in the berry tree a couple of times a
day which is interesting because we don't often glimpse the females, although
there're several males abroad.
Blackbirds gave way to Red Wattlebirds which didn't appear to take the
berries, they just seemed content to harass the blackbirds. But, they got
their up-and-commance when the Noisy Friarbirds arrived, and the Friar Tucks
tucked into a berry hearty breakfast. An immature friarbird landed and helped
itself to the berries. A mature bird landed beside it and proffered a berry
which Junior readily accepted. Then, it turned away, took another berry on
its own account and turned back to the adult which fed it again. This sequence,
accompanied by continual, shrill squawks went on for three minutes.
Alas, a pair of Pied Currawongs appeared on Thursday 7
February. They banished the F. Tucks and gorged. Three times I hunted
the piebald piglets. On the last occasion, one sprang atop the Hills hoist
and dropped a big currawong bomb on someone's treasured UCLA t-shirt. I
scraped off the muck, gave it a squirt of stain remover, a whirl in the
Whirlpool and it came up roses. Phew! Confrontation with angry brat
After the raids of the pooping, piebald peccaries the berry crop is zilch.
However, early this morning, the Silvereyes returned and worked through the
foliage, "vacuuming" the surface of the leaves. Whether they were imbibing in a
drop of morning dew, or gleaning tiny insects, we couldn't tell. Later, I heard
very vocal friarbirds on four occasions. They were in the berry tree
and seemed to be using it as a calling station. Just before sundown, it was
visited by a twittering of some 10 House Sparrows, appeared to be all females
and/or immatures. I've not seen sparrows here since mid-October.
John K. Layton