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!
One of the great joys in life is to regularly observe birds and other wild creatures enjoying life in urban neighbourhoods.
It is not difficult to turn your home into a haven for wild species, where you will be constantly enriched by watching their antics and celebrating their visits.
Here at my home in Wendouree, sparrows, honeyeaters, wattlebirds, mudlarks, magpies, blackbirds and crows, regularly visit for a drink from one of several birdbaths. Less frequent guests are crimson and Eastern rosellas, crested pigeons and Japanese doves. On several occasions a gouldian finch has brightened my morning.
It is always good to provide habitat for wild species around your home. Planting bird attracting plants is one way of making birds welcome in your backyard. Consider planting out your verge or nature strip as a wildlife haven, but check Council regulations for your area first. In some heritage overlay areas in Ballarat, the City Council permits only lawns and street trees provided by the Council itself.
However, in newer areas, such as Lake Gardens, Wendouree and Alfredton, the Council can be very encouraging when it comes to providing habitat for birds and other creatures.
Ballarat City Council has an excellent resource about indigenous bird and plant species online. It is a valuable resource for local residents wanting to provide habitat for local fauna by incorporating indigenous species of flora into their gardens on a big, or smaller scale!
Just as important is to provide water, especially in drier times of the year, for birds and other creatures. Bees need water, as do lizards and many beneficial insects such as lady birds.
Gound level containers of water are ideal for lizards and insects, whereas birds like more open raised water sources. Ideally, there should be some nearby bushes for the birds to perch on, but keep birdbaths far enough away, that cats can't hide in the bush and pounce when a bird lands to drink or bathe in the birdbath.
I place a large stone in the centre of my birdbath, so that smaller birds feel secure. It also takes less water to fill and replenish daily. On very hot days, I try to replenish water containers with cool water, as water will quickly heat up in the sun.
Don't put stale loaves of bread, cake, or meat scraps into the rubbish. Birds absolutely love and appreciate such easy meals and will soon clean up any area you scatter for them. I usually rip or cut these into small pieces, so that smaller birds can have their share, along with the local magpies, crows and more. My backyard guests enjoyed a feast of bread crusts left over from making turkey stuffing, as well as ham off cuts of rind and fat; an avian Christmas feast!
Lizards will be regular visitors, or even take up residence if you mulch some areas with wood chips, lay some old logs, clay plumbing pipes or stones around. Both the little fellas and a lovely big blue tongue have been residents within my own garden where I have provided such habitat.
'The Bird Man', in Howitt St, also makes fantastic homes for stingless native bees ands wasps at very reasonable prices.
Also. consider letting your grass grow and seed a little, this time of year. You may well be rewarded with visiting flocks of quail, zebra finches and other seed loving birds!
If you have space, a small frog pond with appropriate habitat planting, will soon be home to resident frogs!
Encouraging such species of birds, insects and reptiles into your garden, will help control pests, like white flys and thrip, as well as cabbage moth.
Rainbow Lorikeets, (trichoglossus haematodus) are amongst the most magificent of Australian birds.
Unmistakable with their glorious green backs, blue heads, and orange beaks with orange and gold breast.
Rainbow lorikeets enjoy a happy co-existence with humans in well treed urban areas and are increasingly common again as people ensure appropriate habitat and food plants are available for them in home gardens and parklands.
When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to be adopted by a wild rainbow lorikeet, who flew into our backyard one afternoon. We treated him to a plate of food that day and from then on he became a regular viisitor.
Joey, as we named him, would wait for his daily plate of 4.00pm treats, including parrot seed, honey, stale bread and fruits. He was always solitary, but we believed he was one of a then small population of these delightful birds, here, in Ballarat, in the mid 1960s.
Joey brought enormous joy to our lives for some three or four years. Every summer, our family would head to Queenscliff for three weeks holiday. Our neighbours would look after our animals in our absence and kept up Joey's 4 o'clock feed.
However, just on dusk, the evening we returned home from our holiday, we were confronted by a terrible sight. Right outside our house, two men had drenched Joey in water to prevent him flying and were attempting to catch him with a fishing net. My dad intervened, saying he was our pet, but he was wild and a protected species. He threatened them with a call to the police and already had taken their car numberplate details. Fortunately they took my dad seriously and left in haste.
Joey followed us into the backyard, still so drenched he was unable to fly to his usual tree. My parents and I were devastated at the prospect of this beautiful wild bird spending his life in some tiny cage, as a captive pet.
After some discussion, we made a very difficult decision. We captured Joey ourselves, which involved my dad grabbing him with a pair of gardening gloves. Joey protested strongly, biting right through my dad's gloves and hard into his finger. My dad managed to pop Joey into a cage that had once housed our budgie and he slept in our sunroom overnight, whilst we sorted out as happy a future as possible for our beloved wild pet.
First thing the following morning, my mum called the Melbourne Zoo and explained what had happened to Joey. The zoo had recently opened their 'great flight aviary' and indeed would welcome our beloved rainbow lorikeet for release within it. All three of us agreed this was a satisfactory compromise. Joey would have space to still fly about and would be well fed. He would also get to meet a few more rainbow lorikeets and have the opportunity to breed.
We were pretty sure those nasty parrot smugglers would return to trap him if he remained in his semi-wild state. We also knew the zoo would welcome us as visitors whenever we wanted to pay him a visit.
Despite this, saying goodbye to Joey on that fateful Tuesday morning was a very teary event for all of us. A friend that was returning to Melbourne had agreed to provide a rainbow lorikeet taxi service to Melbourne zoo. It was with heavy hearts we bid our darling wild pet goodbye.
Some weeks later we headed to Melbourne Zoo, making a beeline for 'the great flight aviary'. Within five minutes Joey had landed on my shoulder and spent at least ten minutes with us as we made our way through the wonderfully huge enclosure, full of lush plantings and feeding stations. It was wonderful to see he had settled in and that he was enjoying about the best possible conditions for a captive bird we could possibly have organised for him.
It was some months before our next visit to the zoo. Again we headed to the 'great flight aviary'. This time Joey again came to greet us soon after our arrival, but he was not alone. His new mate was more wary of us and did not come to sit on my shoulder, but she did stay close to Joey in the branches. He flew from us to her several times, then the two of them took flight and made a lap around the aviary together, a gloriuos sight. Joey again came to me before we left the aviary to say goodbye.
For many years afterwards, Joey would continue to greet me whenever we visited the zoo. It was as if he too had wonderful memories of those joyous times where he made such a powerful connection with our family. He seemed happy enough in his new surroundings and he was contributing to the Melbourne Zoo's captive breeding program.
Today, rainbow lorikeets are, thankfully, a way more common sight again in Ballarat and Melbourne, than they were in the 1960s when I was growing up. Perhaps the habitat to support them has increased, but I can't help but wonder if there are a few less horrible and immoral illegal parrot smugglers capturing wild birds and dooming them to lives in small inadequate cages, devoid of space to fly, enduring poor diets and solitary confinement?
The photographs of rainbow lorikeets on this blog come courtesy of my friend Jurgen Lenz, who also captures rainbow lorikeets with his camera, whenever he can, leaving them free to bring colour and joy, as wild, free indigenous birds!
For further information about Australia's rainbow lorikeets click on this link, to 'Backyard Birds'!
Birds play a vital role in our backyard eco systems. Not only are they beautiful and fun to observe, they provide a free source of manure and enjoy eating predatory insects, some are even essential pollinators.
Birdlife Australia is free to join and provides an excellent avenue to become involved in documenting brid life in your own environment, as well as meeting with and learning from fellow birders.
Birdlife Australia provides useful information in creating bird attracting habitat in your own backyard, as well as being an organisation worthy of support and lifelong participation.
I began birdwatching with my dad as a small child. It is something I still enjoy where ever I go.
My own backyard is officially zoned within "critical endangered bird habitat", despite it being in the suburbs of Ballarat and hosts a range of native birds, from crimson and eastern rosellas and magpies, to wattle birds, honey eaters, crested pigeons, mud larks and silver eyes on a regular basis. I have also sighted blue wrens, native quail, willy wagtails and last year a rare gouldian finch visited my birdbath.
I also see squadrons of ibis and swans making their way between Lake Wendouree and Learmonth every morning and evening.
Non indigenous visitors include Japanese doves, house sparrows and starlings.
Our farm, at Chepstowe, was part of the Lake Goldsmith brolga habitat and I had the privilege of watching their mating rituals on more than one occasion. Another rare bird to visit there was a bustard.
Anyone living in Ballarat also has easy access to Lake Wendouree, that serves as a sanctuary to many native waterbirds, as well as tiny fantails, silvereyes and a range of indigenous finches. There are even a couple of night herons, you may be lucky to spot at dawn or dusk!
Occassionally, goshawks can be seen overhead, both at my home and at Lake Wendouree!
I keep both binoculars to get a better view of birds from a distance and a camera handy to record bird species I observe.
Keeping accurate records of bird species that visit your backyard and local environment helps Birdlife Australia monitor the numbers of our native bird species and can help preserve all our wonderful bird species, including endangered ones!
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