The Breakfast Crew

Pretty much every morning, we have to run the gauntlet of dozens of beady eyes.

We’ve got into the habit of feeding our local birds. There are loads of them, of a good dozen different species. Birdie Breakie consists of a wild bird seed and fruit block, fruit peelings and scraps, bread scraps, a few handfuls of coarse oatmeal and occasionally some meat scraps.

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You’ve seen lorikeet frenzy already, but the ducks have become regular and endearing visitors.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 9.24.04 pmThe ibis are a little less welcome; they’re pushy and do lots of noisy honking and flapping around, but they do eat a lot of bugs, so they’re tolerated. The ducks take no nonsense from them, and will swiftly move along any ibis trying to move in on their breakfast.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 9.23.34 pmThe newcomers are the Spangled Drongos. I love these guys. Not only do they have the coolest name, but they’re stunt flyers. Their natural food is insects, caught on the wing, and we’ve learned that if we toss meat or bread scraps into the air, they’ll swoop and dive, and not a crumb will reach the ground.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 9.55.37 pmIt’s impossible to capture on camera (unless I get out the camera handbook and learn how to use the movie function properly), but it’s spectacular to watch, and they’ve learned that we’re a regular supply of easy food, so there’s a crowd of them on the washing line every morning. They’e surprisingly bold, but given what skilled flyers they are, perhaps it’s not so very surprising…

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Go on, zoom in on me!

They’re pretty, too. They have a brilliant scarlet eye, a black velvet head and ‘cape’, and iridescent glossy satin back, tail and wings.  Their head has a sort of ridge or tuft on either side, which gives the effect of a flat top haircut, and when they’re displaying, they can ruffle this up so they get a sort of crest. They’re talkative, as well, not a pretty song but it’s a pleasant background noise, even with twenty of them all at it at once.

How can I resist a lineup of slightly nervous beady eyes at the edge of the patio, wondering what’s for breakfast today, and would I please hurry up and serve…?

30 thoughts on “The Breakfast Crew

  1. Marvellous… the best we can manage is a greater spotted woodpecker!

  2. Laughing at the beady eyes jostling at the edge of the patio.
    I have been adopted by 2 guinea fowl, who peck and fret on the patio and in the garden all day. They also poop. And big-bird poops are a damn nuisance. They are almost as big as my cats (the birds, not the poops), and Jessie and Choco know to leave well enough alone.

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s noisy enough around here with the peewees, butcher birds, magpies, lorikeets, ibis and magpie geese flying overhead. If I had to listen to guinea fowl as well, I’d go bonkers! So far all the bird poo has stayed on the grass, which doesn’t mind at all! I had to laugh at cat-size poops – what an image!

  3. tialys says:

    It’s a good job you do a lot of baking!

  4. Birdybrain says:

    Great Pictures! I love birds they are all so unique and cool in their own way. The black bird with the flat top, Spangled Drongoo (love that name also) looks a lot like a Boat Tail Grakle that we have a lot of in Az. What kind of duck is that? They are beautiful!
    Oh and I definitely wanted to tell that your quilt for your husbands truck turned out really nice, love the pockets!
    Have a great day 🙂
    Birdy Brain

    • katechiconi says:

      Hi Birdy, those are Plumed Whistling Ducks, Dendrocygna eytoni, and they’re very pretty and becoming quite tame, certainly enough to jostle around at the edge of the patio and whistle impatiently at us. Here’s how they sound:
      Glad you like the quilt – he loves it and finds he sleeps much better with the extra bit of warmth, so it was worth the push to get it done.

      • Birdybrain says:

        Thanks for audio! Really cracked me up. I zoomed in on the Drongo again I love the fish tail.

    • katechiconi says:

      I went and had a look at Boat Tailed Grackles, and you’re right, there’s a resemblance, but drongos have a ‘fish tail’, red eye and a much sturdier curved beak, as well as ‘whiskers’ around the base of the beak. I think your grackles are more slender and longer in the leg, too.

  5. Birdybrain says:

    Had to comment again…went to the Lorakeet photos oh my are they beautiful! Your so lucky to get so many different kinds of birds busing you.

  6. EllaDee says:

    I have never seen nor heard of a Spangled Drongo before (just run of the mill [stupid] drongoes!) How lovely they are. I love the feathered ones, except the ibis, we don’t encourage those… Soossie-Cat sees them off. I love that the birds come to hang out with and trust us. I know it’s a food thing but even with food on offer they are picky about who they makes friends with. Your feathered friends speak… err squawk… to your good character 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      Thanks… I know there’s a healthy dose of cupboard love there, but I’m happy to feed them in return for the joy they bring and the fun of watching their antics.

  7. dayphoto says:

    WOW! You not only live in paradise…you have a paradise for birds!


  8. Jen Gardener says:

    Lovely little guys!

  9. Nanette says:

    My dog is very good at ‘seeing off’ the ibis…that we call Stavros..long story….and the pigeons….Freddie Freeloaders….who line up and wait until I put the chook food out. Wild birds can introduce disease into the flock, so they’re not welcome. I know it’s lovely to have lots of birds visiting, and sorry Kate, at the risk of being a wet blanket, I don’t agree with feeding them. I think in cold and snowy climes it can be necessary, where’s there’s a shortage of food, but not here. I went to a talk recently by Parks and Wildlife about what to plant to bring birds into the garden….and they were adamant about wild birds not being fed by us, as their young don’t learn to forage, they learn to line up for a handout with their parents. Bread and such can cause lots of problems for them too. Perhaps find out what these different birds eat naturally, and their preferred habitats and plant up a forest for them.

    And the rod for your back……friends in Alice springs used to put out seed for the birds, the white cockatoos ate most of it, and when they went on holidays and there was no handout, the cockies went berserk and wrecked their place and the neighbours……destroyed paling fences, tore window frames off, and attacked doors and the wooden shed……beware the thwarted drongo 🙂

  10. rutigt says:

    Our neighbours are serious birdwatcher. Now and then you can see them starring through a pair of binoculars up in the sky and then you´ll know there´s an interesting bird somewhere in the blue 🙂

  11. Wow, so exotic your garden birds look to me! All the birds seem so big too? And Ibis are very pretty, funny to see you call them pushy ;0) Isn’t blogging great, just look in in some one back garden from the other side of the world?? xo Johanna

    • katechiconi says:

      That’s how they looked to me when I first arrived in Australia, too! They’re not that big – the ibis are the largest, and they are only the size of a small chicken, but with very long legs. The ducks are smaller than European mallards. I do love all the glimpses I’ve had into other peoples’ lives and gardens!

  12. Those spangled drongos have the most ear-catching name. Your brekkie table seems most exotic to us Europeans.

  13. What a wonderful variety of feathered friends. I’m envious that you’re able to take pictures, I can’t even get close to the window without birds leaving our feeder. My husband built a large feeder near our back porch. The dropped seeds grow into a nice circle of sunflowers and millet, providing cover for all sorts of creatures. All day we get an assortment of birds, from woodpeckers to goldfinches. After the sun goes down the raccoon, skunks, and sometimes possums come by to nibble on dropped seed. I know it seems like we’re feeding them but watching all the life at our feeder nourishes us too.

    • katechiconi says:

      We’ve learned a technique to avoid scaring them; we approach with heads down and turned away, we throw the offerings slowly and in a wide sweep, and we stand still and watch until the last bird leaves. Increasingly, the insect life that the drongoes feed on is being reduced by insecticides, and the grain that the ducks and ibis forage in the fields is getting less and less with modern efficient farming methods. We’re careful to feed either seed formulated for wild birds, or pure grain for the foragers, or meat scraps for the carnivores like magpies and drongoes, not just throw out whatever leftovers we have. We also don’t feed every day to avoid building expectation and reliance on what we put out. As you say, we are nourished by closer contact with the wild world…

  14. OMG !!your garden looks like a bird zoo ! the biggest birds we get in our garden are blue herons,luckily they come just one at the time as we don’t like to have them in our garden as they are after our koi !!!

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