It’s magpie attack time and the birds with a beautiful flute-like song join plovers as public enemy number one in spring, if only for a short time. The menace of plovers – also called masked lapwings – were the subject of the column last week and now I turn my attention to a far more dangerous threat, magpies. As I reported, plovers are all bluster when they dive-bomb people near their nesting sites and rarely come into contact with the unsuspecting target. Magpies, on … [Read more...] about Magpies on the attack
On The Wing
A column for all seasons
Everyone has a story about birds. They are all about us and are our contact point with nature. The birds I see are usually in an urban environment and so I concentrate on these in my writing. I don’t pretend to be an expert but birds of the city and suburb are also the ones that most people identify with, the species you do not need a compass and binoculars to seek out. A scarlet robin singing in a garden is just as exciting as a swift parrot in an ancient forest and is worth just as many words in my On the Wing writings.
It’s that time of the year when our feathered friends, or at least some of them, show an aggressive streak. The main culprits in our public open spaces are plovers but magpies are just as likely to join in the mayhem that is spring. The ABC earlier this month invited me in to explain why birds act the way they do at this time of year and I was happy to share my knowledge with Sarah Gillman on her Mornings radio show. It just so happened that just before I arrived a male … [Read more...] about ‘Plovers’ bring menace in spring
“To feed or not to feed?” It sounds like a quote from Shakespeare but it is a question often raised by the gardener trying to attract birds to his or her garden. It was addressed during a spring workshop on creating a bird-friendly gardens run by the owners of the Inverawe Native Gardens at Margate, Bill and Margaret Chestnut. The consensus among bird experts is that we should not feed birds, because it makes them dependent on humans – especially in winter – and can create … [Read more...] about A year-round larder for birds
The sun was shining strong and hard when I awoke on the first day of spring and the day held promise for summer migrants. On September 1 I always go to my local birdwatching spot, the Waterworks in Dynnyrne, to see if welcome swallows have arrived but by the time I reached the reserve at about noon the weather took a turn for the worst. Winds blowing from the south-west brought rain to the Waterworks Valley and snow to the summit of kunanyi/Mt Wellington. Even the migratory … [Read more...] about False start to spring
I had a rare interaction with my resident house sparrows last month when I had to beep the horn to prevent them being squashed under the wheels of my car. The sparrows use the crushed mudstone of my drive as a dust bath and never bother to move as I come and go on foot, knowing I’ll give them a little space and respect. The car, though, is a different matter and although sparrows have no doubt over the eons learned to recognise friend and foe among the human population, the … [Read more...] about Sparrows deserve our respect