The bird-magnet tree

To: "Canberra Birds" <>
Subject: The bird-magnet tree
From: "John Layton" <>
Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2008 21:25:23 +1100
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 averted.
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
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the Canberra Ornithologists Group mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the list contact David McDonald, list manager, phone (02) 6231 8904 or email . If you can not contact David McDonald e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU