Loss of old trees has meant a loss of nesting hollows for many Australian animals. My husband and I have tried to do our bit by putting up nest boxes in a few places. We’re still waiting for the microbats to find their little house, high up in the eaves. The other boxes were built for medium sized birds, like lorikeets and rosellas. One nest box with a larger opening has been occupied by the local possum, but we have two up-market apartments still vacant. One is next to where the possum lives, so I expect that’s ruined the neighbourhood. But the one on the other side of the pool, attached to a palm tree, is a mystery.
A pair of rosellas showed some interest, then the box was ignored. Until recently. One day, I thought something had moved in, but I checked with binoculars and it was just the light striking the inside of the box. But wait a minute – the entrance hole had been chewed. It wasn’t flaking paint and if you looked closely, you could almost see claw marks.
What was it?
Not parrots or day birds. They went up there, for sure, because the palm was in flower, and everyone loves palm nectar. The birds would sit on top of the box, but I never saw anything going in, or coming out, and there was no wear on the perch. Sure, the possum went up there to feed at night, but she wouldn’t fit in that hole. Besides, there was no sign of hair on the wood.
An owl? Microbats? I’ve looked for droppings, but there’s nothing. Besides, the box doesn’t bother the birds at all. They’ll sit on top to take nectar from the palm flowers.
This morning, a pair of lorikeets showed some interest. Here they are, inspecting the premises. One bird spent a lot of time actually putting his head in there. One picture seems to show he was unimpressed and maybe a bit fearful – but he put his head in, again.
It’s absolutely intriguing. Sure, we could get a ladder and look in through the top, but that’s not very neighbourly, is it? And who knows? Maybe we’ll get to hear the clitter-clatter of tiny claws some time. Wouldn’t that be nice?
By the way, any suggestions regarding the tenants would be welcome.
We’ve had a lot of unseasonal rain lately, causing a change in our bird visitors. Every garden has its locals and our’s is no different. We have a colony of noisy miner birds, a bunch of butcher birds that come over regularly for pieces of bacon rind, a few pee wees, crested pigeons and turtle doves, all on the scrounge for bits of bread or fruit. Sometimes (maybe once every ten days or so) we’re visited by rainbow lorikeets, who like a piece of left over bread. There’s one couple (they usually come in pairs) that seem to be regulars. We can tell by their behaviour, not appearance. They’re not afraid of us and they see off any intruders of their own kind as if our yard is their territory.
When it rains, the lorikeets come in numbers. I guess it’s harder to find nectar and seeds when the water is trickling down between your feathers. And I expect they get cold, too.
So… when it rains we have scenes like this.
Yesterday, I decided to test how trusting the birds really were. And here’s your answer. I offered my piece of bread to the pair I thought were our regulars, they accepted, then everybody came to join in. Wild birds all, just some of the thousands upon thousands around the town. It was a blast. And a privilege.
Sometimes photo opportunities just… happen. I was working on a synopsis when I heard the familiar chirps of a couple of rainbow lorikeets. A lot of them live around us, we see them frequently but they hadn’t come in close to the house for a few days. So I picked up the camera and went outside.
These two must have popped in for a secret tryst. The thing that struck me was the size difference. Unlike many bird species, there’s no real way of telling by sight which is a girl and which a boy – although behaviour offers a clue. But this pair seemed to be an exceptionally large male and a very petite female.
I also thing the male was quite young and inexperienced. He has that youthful glitter in his eye. She let him mount but I think he must have stuck a claw in a sensitive spot.
From then on, she wasn’t talking to him, despite his attempts to impress.