My Little Introduction

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RedBrowedFinch
RedBrowedFinch's picture
My Little Introduction

Hi there Everyone,

I am new to this website, and quite frankly, I do not know why it has taken me so long. I am really looking forward to meeting like-minded individuals who, like me, absolutely love birds!

I live in Loch Sport. A small, mostly holiday-destination town in East Gippsland, Victoria. We're in between Lake Victoria and the 90mile beach. Quite personally, I've never actually measured it myself, but I believe it's 90miles smiley. I've been living here with my husband for roughly 6years now, and the wildlife here is in abundance! We have more than our fair share of kangaroo's, echidna's, wombats, bunnies, and the most spectacular variety of birds. Lorikeets (Scaly & Rainbow), Rosellas (Eastern & Crimson), Blue Fairy Wrens, Willy Wagtails, Swallows, Kookaburras - and just wow, so many to name. But there is one that stands out for me, and I guess we all have that particular one that brings us joy the moment we see/hear it. For me, it's the Red-Browed Finch (Firetail). I've never been one to feed wild life, because growing up I always believed it would cause more harm than good, but now I just can't help myself. These little finches bring me such joy every day - even when there squabbling over seed. For the first time since we've been here, this past Christmas they brought their young to visit - I was so happy I cried (yes, I'm a regular sook, even my Husband has nicknamed me Mother Hen!).

This is where it starts to get sad. I enjoy their company so much so I feed them at breakfast, lunch and dinner - Trill mix for small parrots. I've never seen them in such large numbers as they are now - sometimes 60 at any one time in our front yard. I'm at the point now where I am so distressed if something were to happen to me, that my little friends wouldn't know what to do. Oh yes, I know they don't live in my yard, and aren't here 24/7 so they must have other means of finding food. But when I have no seed, and it can happen for a few days on end, they get scarcer and it upsets me even more. I'm sure I can't be the only one to go through these emotions (hopefully). I guess what I'm looking for is some advice for some kind of common ground. I don't want them to leave me, but I don't want them reliant on me either. I'm also getting to the point where I chase the other birds away who will chase the little ones (Magpies, Noisy Minors) to the point my husband thinks I'm going crazy.

Please help - any advice you can give would be very much appreciated. If it hurts, I only want what's best for these gorgeous little birds!

Take Care,

TrudyC

Araminta
Araminta's picture

O Trudy,your long introduction was very nice. You obviously love birds and any wildlife that lives close to you.

You are asking for some advice (as you tell us), even if it hurts. I think you know the answer I'm going to give?

A bit like: if you love them , let them gocrying

Seeing all these birds are coming to your place, they must have been living and feeding in the area just on what nature provided for them. Try to gradually feed less and less, with the goal to "stop" soon. Turn to planting more and more and more native shrubs and grasses, trust me, the birds will come back. You will be doing the right thing for the birds and the environment.

Otherwise turn your love and passion for birds into a challenge, take a camera and go out to find birds and take photos of them.

Then post them here, so we can all enjoy them.

M-L

zosterops
zosterops's picture

I second the suggestion by Araminta, definitely plant as many native/indigenous grasses and similar plants as you can to encourage them to your yard so you can continue to enjoy their close presence. I've noticed they also like Casuarina seeds, though the trees take years to reach maturity. I'd also advise planting native middle story plants to provide shelter and protection from predators, in particular I've found they like Bursaria spinosa, prickly Acacias, Leptospermums and Melaleucas for refuge and nesting sites. Finding out what's local to your area is probably the best bet. 

Best of luck. 

Woko
Woko's picture

I'm with Araminta & zosterops, Trudy. Focussing on the environment as a whole by encouraging indigenous plants, particularly indigenous grasses for food, but also shrubs for protection is a great way of encouraging your head to control your heart. Your heart is important, of course, & this is why your passion for the Red-browed Finches is most helpfully employed in creating the highest quality bushland, however small in area, for these birds. And good on you for spotting your dilemma of creating dependence which, in the long run, is harmful to the birds.

If you haven't already, you might want to look at the various posts about the artificial feeding of birds by using the search box near the top of this page.

RedBrowedFinch
RedBrowedFinch's picture

Hi All,

Thank you so much for your comments and advice. I believe I have a new purpose in life. Rather than feeding them "artificially" I'm going to make my yard more "user-friendly" for my little finches. We have mostly sand here - being in between a lake and the ocean, but I do believe the local garden centre may be able to help with some of the suggestions from zosterops. I just hope they have the right stuff. The video on the home page about protection small birds, even my little finches, was also very knowledgable.

I'm so glad to find this community, and shall definitely keep you all informed as to my progress to make a safe, happy and natural environment, where my little finches will come to visit me, without the consistent temptation of regular feeding heartyessmiley. Can I still feed them every now and then, or is it best left to the plants? I will still keep my bird bath - I do believe they are invaluable - all year round.

Once again, thank you, and it's a great pleasure to be here at last!

Take Care,

Trudy

Regards

TrudyC

aka RedBrowedFinch

zosterops
zosterops's picture

Nice to see the little fellows :) 

Definitely keep the bird bath, finches have high metabolism and need to drink regularly. 

I'd say the odd random feeding is fine, though hopefully it would ultimately become unnecessary once foodplants become established, if planted in abundance.Hopefully you will be able to enjoy something like this from your window, which i found by searching the forum:

http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/forum/Red-browed-Firetail-1

Araminta
Araminta's picture

I also have a few bird baths around the house, all kinds of birds big and small flock to them eary in the morning and late afternoon.

They have to be kept kleen and the water often refreshed when it's hot. Just as with the feeding all the birds in your area will soon know where they can go for a drink. O, one more thing, I know it would be tempting to put the bath close to the house, (I've done it), but when the birds get into fights, some might hit your windows and get hurt. You will know what a safe distance is? I have very dirty windows, therefore hardly any reflectionslaugh, one of my bird baths is fairly close to the housewink Here is your excuse for not kleening too much.

That's funny zosterops, I was just looking for the photos you gave the link to, but you were faster than me. Must be getting old and slowcrying

M-L

RedBrowedFinch
RedBrowedFinch's picture

Hi there Zosterops,

Thanks for the link. I don't suppose you know what kind of plant that is in the photo? They don't seem to eat many of the plants we have around the house here. The garden is kind of haphazard as we're only renting. But I figured if I were to plant some, at least if we were ever to move, they would still be able to come back and benefit from my little legacy to them. I have noticed they seem to enjoy the Wallaby Grass we have growing - seems to be the only thing that flourishes here in this sandy soil! - when they're not eating the seed.

And yes, they drink quite frequently. When I first started noticing them, I would sit on the verandah (for probably hours) watching them. Then saw that quite a few would fly around the verandah, down the side of the house, yet I never knew what they were doing. One day I decided to take a peek and saw them in one of the tossed out cooking pots drinking from the rain water. They looked at me as if to say "MOST people provide bird baths!" lol - and they have never looked back.

Thanks again for all your advice smiley

Take Care

TrudyC

Regards

TrudyC

aka RedBrowedFinch

RedBrowedFinch
RedBrowedFinch's picture

That's funny, Araminta! I used to feed them quite close to the house, but it has and opening underneath the verandah, and a couple of times a cat jumped out from underneath. It never caught any - thank god - but then I decided to feed them under the wattle tree that grows in the front yard. That way, they can see all around for danger, and have a place to retreat to. So that's where their bath is too. Although, it doesn't seem to stop them from hitting the windows?

They haven't done it in a long time, but a couple of days ago, I was watching a YouTube video on Red Browed Finches, and it played their song on it. They were eating outside at the time, and one few over and hit my flyscreen - poor little guy must have thought I had snuck in a group of competitors. It was just the funniest thing - yet thankfully he wasn't hurt - fly screen isn't as bad as glass. The birds here only ever seem to bump into the windows when the wind is very strong. We have helped a couple of birds in the past recover, and felt so relieved that they have flown off after an hour or so.

Take Care

TrudyC

PS - You take an awesome photo, Araminta yes

Regards

TrudyC

aka RedBrowedFinch

Woko
Woko's picture

Hi Trudy. I'd be rather wary about taking advice from a general nursery about plants indigenous to your area. Most general nurseries are in the business of making a profit & any plant that does this is fine by them. If you have a local Landcare, Coastcare group or council environment officer then you're more likely to get accurate information about indigenous plants. Of course, if you already have a list of indigenous plants then there's no harm in finding out if your local general nursery has any of them in stock. Indigenous plants grown from seed collected in the area into which you wish to plant them preserve the genetic integrity of the plants in your area. Sometimes, nurseries selling indigenous plants have the source of the seed on the plant labels.

As you've discovered, Wallaby Grass is just the ticket for Red-browed Finches (& a number of other seed eating birds). I've also seen Red-browed Finches feeding on Elegant Grass Austrostipa elegantissima but this species isn't local to Gippsland as far as I know. There may be other Austrostipa species which are.

If you have good quality bushland for the Red-browed Firetails there should be no need to artificially feed them. I'd suggest that any artificial feeding would be more about meeting your needs rather than the needs of the birds.

RedBrowedFinch
RedBrowedFinch's picture

Hi there Woko,

Yes, I do believe I shall have some certain varieties in mind when I visit the nursery, but what I meant was, they would know what could be grown in this sandy, dry soil (or what my husband calls Ash). I need hardy bushes and shrubs and grasses that will outlast drought (as the Wallaby Grass does) and bloom to feed my feathered friends.

And I wholeheartedly agree. Building a more bird friendly, safe & healthy environment will be better for all concerned in the long run. I will rest in peace knowing that long after I am gone, they and their offspring will return to this garden smiley

Take Care,

TrudyC

Regards

TrudyC

aka RedBrowedFinch

timmo
timmo's picture

Hi Trudy,

I think the plant in the linked photo by Araminta was identified previously as a Gahnia sieberiana.

They are kind of sedge and grow in wetlands and damp areas generally. I don't know if they are local to your area or not.

Cheers
Tim
Brisbane

RedBrowedFinch
RedBrowedFinch's picture

Hi there Tim,

Thanks for letting me know. I'm new here, so all this information is coming at me - and I'm really grateful. But that is a shame, I need bird feeding shrubs that suit the dry/sandy environment.

Take Care,

TrudyC

Regards

TrudyC

aka RedBrowedFinch

Elsie
Elsie's picture

Welcome Trudy! So glad that you have joined us heresmiley I so hope that you are able to find the plants that you are looking for in the nursery.

I have noiced that when the little finches are here at my house they like ot feed on any sorts of grass seeds, we have actually stopped mowing just one spot of particularly seedy grass so that it is always flowering for them.

I can't wait to see more of your photos!

LC

RedBrowedFinch
RedBrowedFinch's picture

Thanks for the welcome, LC smiley

I am very much enjoying being part of this website. I came here with my hands up and very upset. Knowing I would have to stop feeding my little visitors. Now I know there are many ways I can keep them coming back to see me (I would LIKE to think they would anyway, but if I were to be realistic....lol).

I'm finding this website very resourceful, and the members very knowledgable. I'm getting help with finding plants and trees/shrubs for my garden. And am looking forward to seeing it grow and prosper - along with my little visitors smiley.

Take Care,

TrudyC

Regards

TrudyC

aka RedBrowedFinch

Annie W
Annie W's picture

A big welcome from me Trudy!  Looking forward to seeing more of your feathery locals!

NW Tasmania

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