Be a friend, supporting and mainaining Australia's unique birds and their habitats!
Enjoy these videos!
Sing-a-long and join Birdlife Australia's work.
Be a friend, supporting and mainaining Australia's unique birds and their habitats!
Enjoy these videos!
More information from Birdlife Australia about participating in Birds in Backyards surveys.
A great thing to do with your family during school holidays and it's free to be involved!
Here's another great video from Birdlife Australia's Birds in Backyards campaign.
Watch and be inspired and informed!
Click here to become part of Birdlife Australia's Birds in Backyards!
Yet another wonderful and informative video from Birdlife Australia to help inspire your garden!
Birdlife Australia is free to join and undertakes wonderful and inspiring work to ensure diverse and prolific Australian birdlife for generations to come.
To join Birdlife Australia click here!
There is no excuse for not including at least one bird bath in your garden, except, perhaps ignorance. Bird baths play a vital role in preserving endangered bird species in 21st century environments. Including and maintaining a bird bath in your garden, may even contribute to the survival of endangered and rare bird species in your local area.
Ideally, every garden across Australia and elsewhere in the world, would include at least one well tended bird bath, located close to some shrubs, for local bird species to enjoy.
Neigbourhood birds appreciate not only a welcome drink, but a chance to bathe and wash their feathers on a regular basis and your birdbath, will provide you with many hours of pleasure as you make bonds with and observe many wild species in your garden.
Your garden will benefit too, with the bonus of extra nitrogen being delivered through the manure of these small creatures, as well as fabulous natural control of garden pests they enjoy eating, such as aphids, slugs, caterpillars and scale insects!
They also pollinate some plant species and I credit my New Holland Honey Eater friends, here in Ballarat, with the annual fruiting of my camelias and viable seed setting of my mandevilla, as these birds just love their nectar and regularly feed on the flowers. They also love the flowers of rosemary, kniphopfias and aloes, none of which are indigenous plant species!
Avian visitors also perform the service of aerating the soil and lawn, so for the small effort of keeping a couple of birdbaths clean and full, you receive multi benefits and many hours of enjoyment observing the behaviours and interactions of such delightful garden visitors.
The most popular bird baths tend to be the pedestal variety, but, according to Birdlife Australia, these will only cater for a limited number of usually common and often confident backyard species, such as magpies, magpie larks. (peewees), lorikeets and parrots, New Holland Honey Eaters and more.
More skittish and insecure finches and other small birds much prefer a shallow bird bath closer to the ground with grasses and spikey shrubs close by for instant cover.
I draw great pleasure from the pedestal birdbath I have, just beyond the doors of my sunroom, where I regularly observe a parade of regular users. It has been located in the same position for over 20 years, so all the local bird species seem to know where to come for a bit of local avian indulgence and a cool drink. The sunroom serves as a fabulous human "hide", so even skittish species utilise it on a regular basis, only departing if I physically stand up, or enter the garden.
Within the birdbath, I have placed a rock, partly to minimise water used in filling it up, but equally to allow birds of different sizes to have depths suitable to their own needs and comfort. As a result, anything from the size of a magpie, or raven, to a tiny New Holland Honey Eater make good use of it.
With changes happening in my front garden, I am designing a zone to attract small finches and other tiny skitish bird species and plan a second bird bath, low to the ground, geared to their needs. The area is located as strategically as my back garden bird bath, close to my front windows, so that I again can relish watching the smaller species enjoying themselves, unaware of my presence. It will be planted out with indigenous plant species with tiny spiky foliage and grasses to also supply them with shelter and food.
Bird baths can be cheaply, easily and creatively made from recycled terracotta pot saucers, old frypans or similar and a few old bricks to support them. A well placed rock or brick, will add weight and stability and prevent gusts of wind from sending it flying. Of course, plenty of designer bird baths are available at garden retailers and make a great feature in any garden, when placed within a couple of metres of bird safe foliage !
In case you need any more convincing, watch the Youtube video below, courtesy of Birdlife Australia!
I just received this information in an email from the Australian Conservation Foundation.
The federal government thinks only a small group of activists cares about habitat destruction beyond their local area.
We need to let them know how wrong they are!
The video has fabulous examples from the forests of the Central Highlands, near Ballarat, to the Blue Mountains in NSW and beyond!
Connect with Your Range to learn more!
Have you ever returned home to find your dog has raided the Christmas presents, chewed up a treasured book they snuck off the bookshelves, chewed your favourite shoes or prescription glasses, or dug a huge trench in your garden?
If you have and realised your dog was guilty of the offence, then you will probably recognise their guilty postures and expressions when their misdemeanor is discovered and they are questioned about their involvement!
A terrififc example can be seen in "Denver the Guilty Dog".
Cats are highly social animals.
Often, if fending for themselves, they will congregate to form cat colonies, where member cats band together and enjoy mutual grooming and will hunt and share food amongst colony members.
Cats equally choose to create bonds with humans. As they are territorial animals, they will also indulge in a degree of neighbourhood roaming to establish their day and night territories.
My previous cat, Moggy Boy, extended his territory beyond my front and backyards, right across the front yard as well as halfway into the backyard of my neighbour, Narelle. The back half of her garden was the territory of another cat, who lived in the home behind Narelle's. Moggy Boy and the other cat respected each other's territory and rarely came to blows. Being the very social cat that he was, it was not long before Moggy Boy formed a strong bond with Narelle. He would head to her place as soon as I left for work, hoping she may be at home. There, he would sun himself in her garden, enjoy smooches and even be allowed inside, to play with scraps of paper, bits of string and anything else Narelle, a fellow cat lover, would offer him. Narelle knew Moggy Boy was well fed and chose never to feed him treats and as soon as he heard my car pulling into the driveway, would be home to greet me.
Narelle and I both valued our respective relationships with Moggy Boy and she was happy to slip into my place to put Moggy in at night and feed him if I was away.
Now Moggy Boy's waistline was always a problem. He was on a very strict weightloss diet, but sometimes continued to gain weight. I had my suspiscions that Narelle was not the only other human the Moggy Boy visited. I even had a collar tag engraved not just with his name, but "please do not feed me", to prevent him taking advantage of the generosity of my neighbours. Clearly he could put on the "I'm starving" routine and be very convincing.
Despite his daytime wanderings, Moggy Boy remained loyal to me and could always be found at my side when I was at home. We shared my bed in the evenings and he always slept on top of the blankets, pressed against my left side.
However, not all cats are as loyal or as bonded to their human as Moggy Boy was to me. A colleague of mine complained of spending over five thousand dollars on his cat when she needed emergency surgery and within three months, the cat had shifted her loyalties and moved in with the family across the street. My nephew had a similar experience with his family's cat, who was returning home less and less and his neighbours admitted to feeding her during her visits.
Most recently another friend is being visited most nights by a young ginger cat she has dubbed Marmalade. Marmalade began visiting her a month or two ago. She would greet my friend in her yard and my friend, being a major cat lover and without a cat of her own would make a fuss of her and welcome her inside for a visit. Sometimes she would treat Marmalade to a can of tuna. Eventually Marmalade would arrive most evenings and rub at my friend's window until she was invited inside. It was clear Marmalade had a home and was well cared for, as she was in excellent condition and wore a collar and bell, but no ID tag.
I discouraged my friend from feeding Marmalade, reminding her she did not want a new cat at this particular time in her life and it was not really fair to encourage someone else's cat to be quite so at home at her place. I suggested she attach a note to Marmalade's collar saying she had become a regular visitor at night and perhaps they should consider keeping her indoors at night. In any case, winter progessed and Marmalade was now spending very cold nights sleeping at my friend's side. She was also getting quite rotund.
For the last few days Marmalade has not turned up at my friend's window requesting to come inside. She is hoping Marmalade is alive and well. Maybe Marmalade is locked up, paying penance for her weight gain. Maybe she has moved with her family to a new area. My friend fears Marmalade may have been injured or killed on the road.
In any case, these stories indicate just how important it is that you bend to your cats every need and desire. Cats are very good at finding their way in to where the yummiest food and warmest spots are. If they are made welcome somewhere else and find greater comfort there, your cat is likely to up paws and move in.
It is especially vital to ensure your cat is confined at night, preferably with access to a very comfortable bed containing a human and access to a good and direct source of heat, to warm themselves to their heart's content and with plenty of their very favourite food available!
Dr Hugh Wirth, animal welfare activist and long time president of the RSPCA Victoria, announced his retirement from the position today.
Dr Wirth's involvement with the RSPCA, will however continue as its patron. He is also the revered presenter of a fortnightly spot on ABC Radio's 774, on Saturday mornings at 9.00 am and will continue in that role for the forseeable future. He further announced to his radio listeners today, that he is suffering from Parkinson's disease, but doing well so far. He is leaving his role as President of the RSPCA Victoria, on his own terms, rather than being pushed out, or forced to retire due to ill health.
Dr Wirth is an obvious nominee for Australian of the Year for all of us that love animals and value animal welfare and protection. To many of us he is already a living Australian Treasure and role model for vets, pet owners and animal activists world-wide, much less here in Victoria.
In a stellar career as chief veterinarian and president of the RSPCA for as long as I can remember, Dr Wirth has advocated and negotiated for the welfare of animals. The Domestic Animal Act of Victoria, owes much to the work and input of Dr Wirth and the RSPCA, for major improvements in such basics as laws governing pet dog and cat ownership and aquisition, early desexing of domestic animals, microchipping and compliance of licensed breeders of cats and dogs to ensure the ongoing welfare of animals they breed.
Campaigns I remember Dr Wirth driving over the years in Victoria include:
If all those achievements were not enough, Dr Wirth also served as both commitee member and President of the World Society for the Protection of Animals for some years, where he was able to liaise advise, assist and instigate, on a global scale, on behalf of wild and endangered animal species, as well as target practices that confilcted with the welfare of domestic animals, such as the problems of street dogs and cats around the world.
He was also resident vet at the Melbourne Show annually in September, on call to serve the needs of sick or injured animals during the course of competitions and animal exhibition.
On a personal level, I have had three friends for whom Dr Wirth was the long term vet to their animals, who invariably spoke of his level of care and support for both their pets and themselves. One shared his love of Cornish Rex cats and owned the half sister to one of Dr Wirth's own Cornish Rex. I have regularly listened to Dr Wirth on Saturday mornings. His own work has inspired my own in relation to advocating and educating in relation to animal welfare. Dr Wirth's books,'Living with Dogs', 'Living with Cats' as well as his autobiography are all recommended reading for animal lovers.
I wish Dr Wirth a long and happy retirement and continual media comment in relation to animal welfare and health for many years to come, as well as many happy years with his own beloved animals. No doubt "Dr Hugh" will continue to contribute very much to the RSPCA, as it makes it's way under the presidency of someone new. However, Dr Wirth's shoes are very big ones to fill and I only hope that the RSPCA's new president is given the time and support to eventually fill them. Such breadth and depth of knowledge and experience, gained over a lifetime in animal welfare is not going to be easily replaced.
Hats off to Dr Hugh and remember it up to all of us in the broader community to make animal welfare an ongoing priority!
Speak up for animals who have no voice themselves and do all that is within your means and available time on their behalf!
Here is the link to make a start: http://rspcavic.org/get-involved
Fiona Ludbrook is the Client Services Director of Pets and Plants Ballarat. Now, entrepreneur and blogger, she was born and bred in Ballarat, but spent many years as a teacher in Melbourne’s