Backyard Buddies


Bmail March 2018

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A Special Kind of Parrot

The Mallee Ringneck is a type of Australian Ringneck which is a type of parrot. There are 4 subspecies of Ringnecks and they live in different areas so will rarely see their cousins. They look a bit different but all have the distinctive yellow ring that gives them their name. The Mallee is arguably the prettiest with a bright green head and rump and a deep blue back. It takes 2 years for Mallee chicks to achieve their full colouring,

Will you see a Mallee Ringneck in your backyard? Depends where you live. Their habitat is in the Murray Mallee areas of South Australia, Victoria, and NSW. If you have Mallee trees in your garden or nearby, you may already have seen these buddies or heard them calling to their mates.

Mallee Ringnecks eat a wide variety of seeds, nuts, berries, fruits, weeds, nectar, insects and even wild paddy melons! They will almost certainly find something in your backyard to chew on. Mallee Ringnecks are commonly seen in birdbaths although they are a bit cautious and will perch nearby for a while before enjoying a drink or quick bath.

The Mallee area is susceptible to wildfires that destroy critical habitat for many threatened birds that inhabit the region, like the Regent Parrot and Mallee Emu-wren. Fortunately, Mallee Ringnecks are widespread and are not considered a threatened or vulnerable species right now.

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Diamond Firetails – The Beauty Queens of The Finch World

Male birds are usually more attractive than their mates but the female Diamond Firetail, having the same dramatic markings as the male, stands out amongst all the other small brown female birds. It is difficult to tell the sexes apart although females tend to be a little smaller and a little paler. You won’t mistake the Firetail for another finch – with their striking red bill and tail and spotted wings, they are the best dressed finches around.

Diamond Firetails live in south-eastern Australia and tend to stay in the same place. You may be lucky enough to spot one in your backyard if you live near woodlands or open forest or near creeks or rivers. They are subject to the usual threats- land clearing and development, invasive weeds crowding out their food plants – but they are also facing harassment from another bird. Growing populations of Noisy Miners are driving some Firetails out of their habitat.

They mate for life and both parents look after the young.Eggs and chicks are vulnerable to predators like the Pied Currawong. Firetails often weave flowers into the entrance to their nests for reasons unknown. It is unlikely to be just for decorative purposes and could be an attempt at concealment.

Like all woodland birds, Diamond Firetail populations have declined over the last few decades in line with the reduction and fragmentation of woodlands and degradation of the remaining habitat.

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Brighten Up Your Garden with a Splash of Purple

Suburban birds and bees are always on the lookout for a brightly coloured flowering shrub to spend some quality time with. If small native birds and bees are a bit scarce in your garden, the Purple Pea Bush might be a good choice to bring more buddies into your backyard. They are distantly related to the edible pea family but the “pea” in native pea varieties refers to the shape of the flowers. They do produce pods but don’t eat them unless you are a bird.

Native plants flourish in gardens where they are surrounded by other native plants and the Purple Pea Bush is no exception. You will also attract more birds and bees with a variety of plants for them to choose from. Even though the Purple Pea Bush only flowers in late Winter and Spring, it puts on a stunning display and the bees will thank you.

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