A dry and frosty winter has taken a toll on the birds in my garden.
These past few months has seen Gloucester suffer many frosts. A couple of heavier frosts have burnt the outer leaves of some of my small trees and shrubs, which has not happened since I started planting my bird attracting garden in 2003.
One would think it has been hard on the birds; however, the larger species seem to have weathered it well. Many are now preparing to nest – I’ve seen magpies and crows carrying sticks, and male Satin bowerbirds carefully selecting twigs to construct their bowers.
The smaller birds have not been in the usual large groups, which may reflect the lack of rain rather than the cold, or last summer’s heat.
I used to have daily visits of flocks of thornbills, finches and wrens but now my daily visitors include house sparrows, amusing but not encouraging regarding the natives.
However, the golden whistler is practising his summer song to entice a female to join him in family production and I’m hoping the summer visitors will arrive soon.
During the 15 years since I started planting the garden to attract native birds the number of each type has increased.
It has been an experiment to find which species of shrub and tree works best, survives the extremes of weather, the clayey soil, and be attractive to birds.
There is a small terrace below my back deck that is now thick with shrubs. Some are nectar bearing and some prickly and dense to provide shelter.
All provide habitat for spiders, caterpillars and other grubs which the birds love to eat.
Below the terrace is an area with two small ponds – an essential provision for birds. When my bird baths dry up these ponds are always full of water.
Water is the most important item to provide for birds, especially now that we are threatened with extremely hot summers.
Bird baths should be set very near to shrubs and trees to which the small birds can retreat if danger threatens.
At the bottom of my back garden a line of trees melds into a small forest planted by the owners beyond the laneway which are home to dozens of birds.
You never know what birds you may see if you plant the right trees and bushes and provide plenty of water.
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