A Sweet-Toothed Visitor is Coming to Your Place!
You may have shivered through the cold snap in May, but there is a very good reason to celebrate it. The chill means it’s now a great time to look out for Red Wattlebirds!
These birds don’t like snowfall. It drives them out of their usual high altitude, mountainous habitat and down to lower lying areas.
You’ll have to keep your eyes peeled though as the colouring of their feathers can make them difficult to see when they’re hiding amongst shrubs and bushes. They can be great camouflage artists when they want to be!
To help you spot one, listen out for the Red Wattlebird’s loud, harsh ‘cookey cook’and ‘tobacco box, tobacco box’ calls. They sound quite like the Noisy Friar Bird.
Winter means that Red Wattlebirds will be more frequent visitors to towns and suburbs, where you’ll have a much easier time spotting them. Look out for them forming large flocks.
Red Wattlebirds migrate in search of winter food. They love to drink the nectar from flowers in your local parks and gardens, as they are part of the Honeyeater family.
If you’re a Perth resident, you’ve probably already seen one of these guys. Red Wattlebirds are one of the most common Honeyeaters seen in the Western Australian capital.
If you’re in south-eastern Australia, a good tip is to keep a lookout for Red Wattlebirds poking around under your eaves and gutters. They love to snatch up a tasty meal of a spider to take back to their chicks in the nest. (How would a spider supper sound to your kids?)
If you want to encourage Red Wattlebirds to your garden, plant nectar producing plants. If you have grevilleas or paperbarks (melaleucas) around your backyard, these provide some of the Red Wattlebird’s favourite food.
DID YOU KNOW?
Red Wattlebirds have fantastic hunting skills- like Mr Miyagi in The Karate Kid, these birds can catch flying insects midair!
Little Troublemaker: Wattlebird Noise Machines
It is a dark, chilly winter morning, long before five o’clock, you are curled up in your toasty bed when you wake to a deafening concert of screeches from the bottlebrush outside your house. If you are blessed with a resident flock of wattlebirds in your neighbourhood you might as well get up now – the little noise machines won’t stop until nightfall.
Red Wattlebirds and the Tasmanian Yellow Wattlebirds Australia’s largest of the honeyeaters, can be as annoying as neighbour’s barking dog, especially right now as they start to breed.
Bottlebrushes and other native trees are winter flowering natives, provide much needed food at this cold time of year, and your wattlebirds will not let any of their nectar go to waste.
Starting their families does not only come with noisy announcements. You may also find that the wattlebirds become more aggressive in defending their nest sites and territories.
The smallest of the wattlebirds, the Little and Brush Wattlebirds, also busy themselves with family business, but only where there aren’t too many of their larger cousins, the Red Wattlebirds around.
Like all native birds, the wattlebirds are protected, and there is not much you can do to discourage them from a favourite food tree.
The best way to live with Red Wattlebirds is to enjoy their buzzing activity as sure sign of the coming spring, to trust that they will move on to sweeter nectar once the next species of native tree comes into flower and that those that will stay with you will calm down a lot after the breeding business is over. Until then, earplugs might be your best way to cope with the excitement around you.