Feeding backyard birds

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Subject: Feeding backyard birds
From: Brian Fleming <>
Date: Fri, 05 Nov 2004 18:33:01 +1100
Many years ago (1955-65), at our holiday house at Sorrento, (Vic) we
saw a great many species of smaller native birds, Honeyeaters,
Silvereyes, Brown Thornbills, Blue Wrens, Grey Fantails, White-browed
Scrubwrens and Redbrowed Finches were regulars at our birdbath.
Occasional Golden Whistlers and Grey Thrushes came too, and we even saw
Bassian Thrush now and then. 

  Magpies, Grey Butcherbirds and Kookaburras were occasional visitors
only until one of the house's regular visitors took to barbecue meals
and feeding the large meat-eaters on scraps. Now little birds are seldom
seen on the property and you cant go outside without a hopeful
Butcherbird or Magpie landing on the veranda rail..

  I am well aware that there are many other factors here. But Magpie and
Kooka feeding began long before the intensive urbanization cut in in our
area, with the consequent increase in uncontrolled cats and dogs and the
wholesale removal of native plants. When the predatory species took over
the backyard, the small birds cleared out. 

  As the smaller bush birds are the ones at risk in the suburbs, it
makes sense not to feed the large obvious meat-eater - which of course
include both Grey and Pied Currawongs. The little birds are mostly
insectivorous and like nothing better than finding their own food in a
suitable unsprayed garden. Silvereyes and Brown Thornbills do a
wonderful clean-up job among the aphids. A scatter of crumbs from a
shaken-out tablecloth seemed acceptable to the small birds but this was
rather infrequent. The only time I would deliberately feed the small
birds would be in very hard winter weather or after a major storm or
local fire. In our climate, a safe supply of water in summer is much
more likely to be useful to them.

Anthea Fleming
in Ivanhoe, Vic.
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