Percentage of birders in Australia - and feeding

To: "Trevor Hampel" <>, "Dave Torr" <>
Subject: Percentage of birders in Australia - and feeding
From: "michael norris" <>
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2007 12:59:02 +1100
On feeding, have you read "Australian Native Gardens and Birds" by the late Barbara Salter (1969, revised edition 1977)?

It is extraordinary: I have never read anything like it, even in England.

She planted her Melbourne house block (45 Tulip Street, Black Rock, Bayside - opposite golf courses) with native (usually not locally indigenous) vegetation to attract birds (and insects), provided water in various ways, and also fed them artificially.

The amount of honey mixture she used (from a great variety of designs of feeders) was substantial: 22 litres a day in the coldest weather. She also used suet mixtures, cheese (for the breeding blue wrens)...

The result was up to 350 birds in the garden with counts like 200 Silvereyes, 40 Little Wattlebirds, 20 Spiny-cheeked and 50+ Yellow-faced Honeyeaters .....

In 14 years she recorded 130 species on or over her block, including an Olive Whistler (feeding on suet+ for 3+ months), 2 Gerygone spp.... Breeding birds included Fan-tailed Cuckoo...

Her observations of dying and dead birds is part of her important article, with Roy Wheeler, on "The effects of pesticides on our wildlife" (Bird Observer 429, August 1967).

I know she had many human visitors too, and wonder whether her prescription of proper vegetation, water and some feeding (continually improved to encourage diversity) is not a sound recipe for interesting urban people (most Australians) in birds.

Of course there are down-side risks but I feel environmentalists are sometimes risk-averse to the point of damaging their own cause.

Michael Norris
Bayside, Melbourne

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