Sunday, September 11, 2011

Attracting Birds to My Backyard

Some years ago, I demolished the garage which took up a third of my backyard, and planted native trees to attract native birds. I hoped that one day, rainbow lorikeets or crimson rosellas might stop in my yard for a feed instead of just flying over on their way to somewhere more attractive.

I also added a birdbath, which does get a lot of use. Although mainly from sparrows, blackbirds, starlings (all European) and even spotted doves (Asian).

I even have some blackbirds building a nest in my lemon tree (which looks like it needs a feed):

The grevilleas and eucalypts do attract native birds, but apparently there is now something in my backyard which attracts birds in a way I wasn't expecting. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a willy wagtail in the backyard for the first time ever. And I've seen it a few times since. Why is it suddenly visiting? And today, a red wattlebird spent a lot of time in the backyard, but it wasn't anywhere near the nectar-producing plants I planted for it. I'm sorry there are no pictures of this, but of course when I stood up from my weeding to go inside and get my camera, the wattlebird flew off and didn't return.

First the bird made several swooping flights across the yard, grabbing insects on the wing. Then it gradually realised where those insects were coming and going from; the beehive! So it just sat on the fence around the beehive and made short flights to grab bees right at the entrance to the hive. Much easier! It even sat on top of the hive watching the bees for a while.

I didn't even know that wattlebirds ate insects, did you?


  1. i suspect that your wattle birds have adapted and it's the honey and pollen on the bees legs that they are attracted to, and maybe if you watched them for longer you might find they spit the dead bee back out again. Very interesting.

  2. It's not unusual Vireya. Most honeyeaters eat insects as well. Most people don't realise or notice it. I hope they don't eat too many of your bees!

  3. I did discover that it is quite normal behaviour, but I just hadn't seen it before. I guess it makes sense - there's not much protein in nectar. And there are a lot of bees in a hive - but I didn't put them in my backyard to feed willy wagtails and wattlebirds!

  4. It worked--now I can comment on your blog! I too looked up "wattle bird diet" this morning and found that insects are a staple, but the thought of you providing a hive as a feeding station is still pretty amusing:)

  5. Hooray! Glad you can comment again!