Barbie's garden Gardening Home page features Miscellaneous

Feeding time

It was feeding time today and the neighbourhood gang came to join in!! The yellow Weaver Birds are the most comical. They come and call me at lunch time when I have forgotten the time. The chickens have to peck quickly if they know whats good for them. These little doves come in huge mobs and can devour a chickens lunch in seconds!

[one_half]Doves and weavers waiting patiently[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Just getting a better view[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Go chickens – here come the mob[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Ok guys – after the count of three…..[/one_half_last]

Feeding time is always a big occasion at our house – the birds eat well and they give us such great pleasure when they come into our garden. Even the chickens don’t mind! I’m waiting for the cute Red Bishops – the males are in their fine colours now in breeding season, so I hope to catch a mob of them coming for lunch!

Happy gardening xxxxx

Barbie's garden Gardening Home page features Miscellaneous

Fleeing Fugitives

This week started off with a hint of “Police File” investigations. Familiar sounds – usually heard in prison, I mean cages! – emanating from the tree tops surrounding our house. Well, what do you know!?? Two fleeing fugitives caught in my camera sights…. Barney Blue and Yam Yam Yellow! Don’t know where they escaped from, but are now having either long soliloquy cheep-chats with bored pigeons or flitting at high speed from one tree to another and using our bird sanctuary as their devious hideout. Extra bonus – free lunch with the eeps!

Well, I saw Barney Blue first and he was alone. Yam Yam Yellow (she??) mysteriously joined him today, so I have a feeling that Barney Blue went back to release Yam Yam Yellow from the slammer.

Good on ye, Barney! Two happy boids and a blank cheque of FREEDOM!! Don’t worry – you are in good hands here with us!

Weird… our regular Sunbird is acting suspiciously like Columbo at the mo’! Checking out these shifty rapscallions on his beat!

Well, happy gardening xxxx


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Autumn Bird-capades

My garden is a hive of bird activity at the moment. The Starlings are loving the berries on the massive Willow-like Shinus that stands in the front garden and at any given time during the day there seem to be about thirty to forty of them there at a time, eating the red berries and swooping down to my pond for a drink from the bird baths and a swim. They chatter non-stop and we love hearing their continuous chirping as we work. (The Pepper and Pond are directly outside the office).

But it can also be quite distracting. I’ve shown the location of the pond with the bird baths before in this post. If I turn my head 45 degrees to the left I see two of the three baths and the starlings have been taking turns playing and drinking here for the last few days. At any given time there are at least two birds on each bath with a few others on the ledges or darting back up into the tree to grab a few more of the red berries they seem to love.

A short, 35 second video of the Starlings this afternoon:

And a couple of shots of the Starlings …

[one_half]Starling on the Pond ledgeStarlings at the Pond[/one_half]

[one_half_last]At the bird bathAt the bird bath[/one_half_last]

[one_half]The berries they loveThe berries they love[/one_half]

[one_half_last]More fun at the bathsMore fun at the baths[/one_half_last]

[one_half]In the massive Pepper treeIn the massive Pepper tree[/one_half]

[one_half_last]With the favoured red berriesWith the favoured red berries[/one_half_last]

And in other Birdie News …

[one_half]Cape Bulbul (Pycnonotus capensis).Cape Bulbul (Pycnonotus capensis)[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Even the big birds drink hereEven the bigger birds drink here[/one_half_last]

[one_half]My favourite, the SunbirdMy favourite, the Sunbird[/one_half]

[one_half_last]And two little WitoogiesAnd two little Witoogies[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Coming in to land …Coming in to land ...[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Cute little witoogie (white-eye)Cute little witoogie (white-eye)[/one_half_last]

Those are my Autum Bird-capades! The Starlings have taken over the front garden and in exchange for their delightful company all day, they leave quite a mess behind!

Birds in other Gardens …

I’ve been enjoying all the birds I’ve been seeing on other gardening blogs lately too. Some of my favourite “Bird” posts include …

Bird Rescue Board from It’s Not Work, It’s Gardening; The Niagra Falls Garden Magazine from Garden Walk, Garden Talk; Brush Piles are for the Birds by The Sage Butterfly; The Malachite Sunbird Babies by Barbie of The Gardening Blog; BlogSpot for the Birds by Elephant’s Eye; Hawkweed for Weavers at Beautiful Wildlife Gardens; Sweet little birds, outside my window by This Grandmothers Garden; Bird Counting by Gardens Eye View; A Bit of Bird Watching by A Rose is A Rose; The Bluejays by Crafty Gardener; Time to count Birds by Pam’s English Cottage Garden; We Have Owls! by The Whimsical Gardener, What a Hoot! by Las Aventuras … and there really are at least a hundred more.

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve shared your birds on your blog and leave a link to your post! Would love to share your birds …

Happy Gardening

[note_box]PS: Please join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter – we’ll be so happy if you do![/note_box]

Bugs & Pests Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

The Sunday Bird Show

Well its been hot, hot, hot here and I’ve really not had much inclination to dig in the dirt. All I can motivate myself to do as far as gardening goes is to lounge around, enjoy the garden and appreciate the birds who took over the back garden this afternoon. At one stage there were so many flitting around that I had to put the camera down just to appreciate the very sight of all these different birds who now find some reason to visit my little space in the world. It was really quite something to have all these visitors in such a short space of time.

Most of the birds today were regulars (Yay! I now have “regulars”!) but we also had new birds in the back garden. The Cape Bulbul was new to me and the Redwing Starlings are usually in the front garden, but today they joined us at the back. Every bit of “birdy equipment” was in use this afternoon and the birds showed me what else they’ve been drinking from …here the Redwing Starling is drinking from one of the pots on the Terrace.

Starling on the Terrace

[one_half]Starling on the Terrace[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Starling on the Terrace[/one_half_last]

The Starlings are really not shy at all. They’ve been making my garden their home ever since we’ve lived here but usually confine themselves to the front garden where they have plenty of water features and bird baths which is what they seem to want from me. Water! They also enjoy the Frangipani tree in the front.

Starling on my Terrace

[one_half]Starling on my Terrace[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Starling on my Terrace[/one_half_last]

According to my notes, these with the grey heads are females. They came really close to me and seemed very unfussed by my presence. Then is the “new” kid in town, the Cape Bulbul (Pycnonotus capensis). Cape Bulbul eat fruit, seeds, nectar and insects. They’ve been making short work of the goodies on the new bird feeder.

Cape Bulbul

[one_half]Cape Bulbul[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Cape Bulbul[/one_half_last]

This next bird is new to my garden (I haven’t seen it here before). I’ve looked through my “bird” books and can’t find a match for this one. I thought it looked a lot like the Rooibeksysie which is now a very regular visitor, but … I really don’t know what this is. Does anybody recognise it? It has also been eating off the new bird table, but seems a bit shy.

Unknown Birdie

[one_half]Unknown Birdie[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Unknown Birdie[/one_half_last]

Here is the Rooibeksysie (aka Common Red Waxbill) again – they enjoy the hanging bird feeder and are regular everyday visitors now. They seem to prefer the apple pieces to all the other things we’ve tried. Apple and seeds. They are very cute, have become quite forward and are not shy to let the other birds know when they are around.

Red Waxbill

[one_half]Red Waxbill[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Red Waxbill[/one_half_last]

The sweet little sunbird that visits every day between at around five in the afternoon is growing up. (I first wrote about him here when he was a juvenile). I’ve watched him mature over the last three weeks and enjoy seeing him. Amazing that the same birds seem to come back every day or actually live somewhere in my garden …

The Sunbird

[one_half]"My" Sunbird[/one_half]

[one_half_last]"My" Sunbird[/one_half_last]

And then the last bird of the day, the Hadeda – Just as the sun was starting to go down I looked out of my bedroom window and saw this female Hadeda perched on the neighbours roof, looking into my garden. The light was not great so my photos are not good, but here she is – she gave us quite a show when I went outside to photograph her. Lots of preening and posturing.


[one_half]Hadeda Ibis[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Hadeda Ibis[/one_half_last]

Here are a few other random shots of the birds using their old and new birdy things. I’m thrilled to see they are actually using everything I’ve put out for them and are eating all the fruit and seeds. Having all these birds visit is a wonderful side-effect of gardening.

[one_half]More than one bird type …More than one bird type ...[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Glad to see they do use theseGlad to see they do use these[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Can you see them peeping from behind?Can you see them peeping from behind?[/one_half]

[one_half_last]The Birds main Meeting PointThe main area it all happens[/one_half_last]

Thanks for joining me and “my” birds for our Sunday Bird Show 🙂
Happy Gardening

Bugs & Pests Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

A partly reclaimed view

In my list of Things to Do in the Garden in 2012 I mentioned that I want to prune some trees in order to reclaim a portion of mountain view. In the heat of summer we have managed to get that done and I am happy with the result.

This is a small corner view as seen from one corner of the entertainment area of our back terrace. It’s a place I love to while away a hot summers day either with a good book or good company. It’s a marvellous spot as the air is always full of bird song, its private and peaceful and the views of the garden and surrounds are lovely.

[one_half]Before: Mountain hidden behind treesBefore: The mountain is hidden behind trees[/one_half]

[one_half_last]After: Trees tidied and removedAfter: Trees tidied and removed[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Now we can see the mountain againNow we can see the mountain again[/one_half]

[one_half_last]And … birds on the wireAnd ... birds on the wire[/one_half_last]

[one_half]In the early evening …In the early evening ...[/one_half]

[one_half_last]And a zoomed out viewThe broader view (from the couch)[/one_half_last]

I am happy with the result,  I think it looks a whole lot better. I hope you approve!

In other news …the little sunbird that visits me every day almost has all his markings now! (I first wrote about him here when he was a juvenile). Isn’t he gorgeous? He comes every day just after five and does a little show for me in the tree. Then he goes back to the rest of his family who hang out on the other side of the tree, overlooking my neighbour’s garden. It’s been lovely, I’ve watched him mature over the last three weeks.

"My" sunbird

Happy Gardening

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Something new for Someone new

It seems that whenever I add something new, someone new turns up to inspect my garden … A week or so ago when I spotted the little Rooibeksysie (Common Wax-bill) eating the apples in the bird feeder, I asked what I should be doing to attract different and new birds to my garden. One suggestion I got from Clare at Curbstone Valley Farm was to add different fruit and she suggested citrus. Other suggestions included different seeds, more water, other fruits, different feeders and a few other ideas including supplying the birds with nesting materials.

With thanks to everyone for the suggestions, so far I have added another bird feeder – a wooden free standing feeder which I’ve filled with seed, apple and granadilla pulp, (will try some oranges tomorrow) and I added some water bowls (we have bird baths and plenty of moving water in the pond for them in the front garden, but no drinking water in the back shade garden, hence the addition). After finding the adorable baby doves sitting in the shade garden last week I realised they need some water nearer ground level, as those babies would not be able to fly up high to reach the nectar bottle or the water in the bird baths and pond.

Twenty-four hours later I have new bird visitors …

Cape Robin-chat

Armed with my new book, “Birds of Southern Africa”, identifying the the new visitors was a breeze. Above is a Cape Robin-Chat (Cossypha caffra). It’s a cute 17 cm little bird with a pale orange throat, upper breast and rump and white belly. According to the book its song is a series of melodious phrases, usually starting with ‘cheroo-weet-weet-weeeet’ and also often mimics other birds. It’s a common resident in gardens in the Western Cape.

Below is a Cape Sparrow (Passer melanurus), 15cm little bird that nests in bushes or small trees or in a wall or roof cavity. The male has a striking black-and-white head. They like to eat seed, fruit, buds, nectar and insects. The Cape Sparrow is near-endemic and lives in grassland, fields and large gardens (so obviously just “passing through” my back garden).

Cape Sparrow

A few more photos …

[one_half]Cape Robin-chat, first, furtive look around …A first, furtive look around ...[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Cape Robin: “Ok, this looks pretty cool …”Ok, this looks pretty cool ...[/one_half_last]

[one_half]The Cape Sparrow is not shy at allThe Cape Sparrow is not shy at all[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Cape Sparrow getting stuck into the foodCape Sparrow digs in to the fruit and seed[/one_half_last]

[one_half]New feeder under the big treeNew feeder and water bowls[/one_half]

[one_half_last]New water bowls under the treeNew water bowls under the tree[/one_half_last]

Tomorrow we’ll try oranges and see who turns up …

Happy gardening

List of Birds seen in my garden so far
Cape Sparrow
Cape Robin-Chat
Common Red Waxbill'(Rooibeksysie)
Doves, doves & lots more doves
Red-winged Starling
Southern Double-collared Sunbird
Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Hadeda Ibis
Cape White-eye (Witoogie)

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The Baby Doves in my shade garden

This evening we were sitting on our back terrace, all our pets were out back with us and we were making a fair amount of usual family noise when I spotted out of the corner of my eye what seemed like two very small birds just perched on the Philodendron … just hanging out, seemingly undisturbed by my dogs and cat who were all being quite vocal. On the off-chance that the birds might still be there when I got back I went to fetch the camera. My daughter managed to take quite a few photos of them and as you can see, these are definitely babies.

Barbie tells me that they look as if they are now too big for the nest but still can’t fly. I have been aware of a dove living in the back garden but was not aware of a nest.

This is the sight that first caught my eye …
The sight that caught my eye

Using the zoom lens to get closer without frightening or disturbing them …
Getting in real close

Very obviously babies, they sat quietly, as if watching us.
Looking around

Time for us to leave them alone and keep our boisterous pets away from them …
Nitey-nite birdies

I sent Barbie the photos and she says they seem unstressed. They are not peeping or making any noise so they are probably not lost and Mommy is around. This spot is directly below the bird feeder and water bottle, so there is food for the Mom. The babies must have flown/hopped onto the big leaf stalk they are sitting on which is about 2 feet off the ground – so they are not completely helpless.

I’m guessing that the main threat to them would be my cat Hercules, whom I’ll try to keep him inside and very well fed for the next few days to give the birds a chance to get strong so they can fly to higher branches.

Happy Gardening

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Look who’s eating them apples

I put bird seed in the bird feeder and no-one came. Barbie suggested I add a few pieces of fruit – which I did, and a few days later all the fruit was gone. I never saw any birds go near the feeder. I replenished the apples and again, a few days later, all gone. The bird seed was getting less too, they were obviously eating it. Lather, rinse, repeat …

On the back terrace we have some comfy couches and a hanging pod chair where we like to entertain on a nice day. Its casual, relaxed … a lovely spot to catch up and laze away the afternoon. The last two guests have sat down and within minutes remarked … “look, there’s a bird in the bird feeder”. As soon as I look, they are gone, but now I realised why I never see them … I’ve been sitting on the wrong couch! (For some reason guests always gravitate to the couch with the view of the mountain and bird feeder).

So I resolved to spend an afternoon on the “other” couch, by myself. My entourage (dogs) settled down to sleep, I started to read and within minutes … look who came to eat the apples!!

Rooibeksysie in the bird feeder

It’s the Rooibesysie I wrote about here. His (or her) first visit was brief and was mainly inside the feeder – I got a few shots but nothing worth showing. Then it came back and spent a full five minutes eating apples, bird seed and then sat in the opening for what seemed like ages looking up and down and around before it eventually flew off. It’s not the same one from last week – the eye markings are slightly different if you look carefully at the photos, but I’m delighted to know they are using the feeder and eating my apples!

Common Red Waxbill

It’s so interesting to me how different birds have different habits and utilise different things in my garden, with little overlap. I only ever see the Witoogies at the nectar bottle …

Witoogie drinking

… I’ve only seen the Rooibeksysies at the feeder, doves in the trees and at the front garden’s bird bath, Sunbirds seem to stick to the Hibiscus and Frangipani … etc.

I’m loving the birds in my garden and going to research to see what I can do to attract more. Perhaps something different to attract another type. Any suggestions?

How do You attract birds to your garden?

Happy Gardening

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Sunbird in the Hibiscus

I’ve been going on about how I’m trying to make my garden more hospitable to birds. I’ve been providing water in the form of bird baths and nectar feeders, I have a small bird house on which I leave seeds and pieces of fruit which they are eating and am researching which plants to get (that I don’t already have) to attract different birds to my garden.

Today I had a brief interlude with a Witoogie and then joy of joys, what appears to be a juvenile sunbird gave me a five minute show and allowed me to take a few photographs. There were quite a few of them in the tree but only this one was in photographing distance – How cute is this bird?

Gorgeous Sunbird

The interesting chest markings make me think its an immature sunbird. It hasn’t got the typical bright colouring of a sunbird yet – it still has some downy feathers (which you can see more clearly if you click to enlarge the sixth photo below) and then it has these red blotches on its chest, which make me think its still immature and developing its markings? I really have no idea, I’m assuming this of course.

[one_half]Sunbird lands on the branchSunbird lands on the branch[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Settling down on the branchSettling down on the branch[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Looking around ….Looking around ...[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Then looking upwards …Then looking upwards ...[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Another look aroundAnother look around[/one_half]

[one_half_last]and then it took off againand then it took off again[/one_half_last]

And then the Witoogies

Then I had brief encounter with a Witoogie – they love to eat aphids and I seem to supply those in abundance so have lots of visits from these cuties. One on the Hibiscus and then later, two in the front garden.

[one_half]Witoogie in the HibiscusWitoogie in the Hibiscus[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Poking around for what?Poking around for what?[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Uh oh, he spotted me!Uh oh, he spotted me![/one_half]

[one_half_last]I see the fruit needs replenishingI see the fruit needs replenishing[/one_half_last]

[one_half]First there is one …First there is one ...[/one_half]

[one_half_last]and then there were twoand then there were two[/one_half_last]

This info on Sunbirds from Wikipedia:
The sunbirds and spiderhunters are a family, Nectariniidae, of very small passerine birds. There are 132 species in 15 genera. The family is distributed throughout Africa, southern Asia and just reaches northern Australia. Most sunbirds feed largely on nectar, but also take insects and spiders, especially when feeding young. Flower tubes that bar access to nectar because of their shape, are simply punctured at the base near the nectaries. Fruit is also part of the diet of some species. Their flight is fast and direct on their short wings.

The sunbirds have counterparts in two very distantly related groups: the hummingbirds of the Americas and the honeyeaters of Australia. The resemblances are due to convergent evolution brought about by a similar nectar-feeding lifestyle. Some sunbird species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed.

Happy Gardening

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Rooibeksysie in the Pepper Tree

Today I spotted this cute bird in the Pepper Tree and was lucky enough to be sitting with the camera when it briefly perched in the tree, surveyed the scene and decided it was not safe to spend too much time hanging out. It hopped to another branch where it was briefly joined by two others and then they all took off.

Common Waxbill

I assume that I only attract common garden birds to my garden. I’m right slap bang in the middle of Suburbia after all and I have not yet planted anything to specifically attract more exotic birds to my garden. So assuming this is a common bird, I tried to identify it using the Internet and have come to the conclusion that I need to buy a book! The Internet was not very useful this time, but I finally found what I was looking for.

This is a Common Waxbill, also called a Rooibeksysie (“rooibek” translated is red beak in Afrikaans) and they are about 11 – 13 cm in size. The bill, facial skin (eye-stripe) and underbelly is bright red. It is finely barred brown above and pinkish white below. Found near water, on the edge of cultivated fields in grassland and reeds. Common resident. So yes, it is common, but that doesn’t make it any less cute!

[one_half]Common Waxbill surveying the sceneCommon Waxbill surveying the scene[/one_half]

[one_half_last]And then (briefly) there were threeAnd then there were three[/one_half_last]

My garden is always teeming with birds – when we are inside. The minute I step outside they retreat to the highest branches because of my entourage! If I was a bird, I’d steer clear of my entourage too. They are noisy and … well Dexter frightens grown men, so its no surprise the birds are wary. And Sherrie – she yaps a lot so that’s got to be off-putting for the birds too. To do a “Birding shoot” I either have to lock both dogs indoors (which I hate doing) or wait for them to go on play-dates. I’ll have to organise a few more because I do love watching the birds in my garden.

Happy Gardening

A few notes I found on the Common Waxbill (More at
The Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild), also known as the St Helena Waxbill, is a small passerine bird belonging to the estrildid finch family. It is native to sub-Saharan Africa but has been introduced to many other regions of the world and now has an estimated global extent of occurrence of 10,000,000 km².

It is a small bird, 11 to 13 centimetres in length with a wingspan of 12 to 14 centimetres and a weight of 7 to 10 grams. It has a slender body with short rounded wings and a long graduated tail. The bright red bill of the adult is the colour of sealing wax giving the bird its name. The plumage is mostly grey-brown, finely barred with dark brown. There is a red stripe through the eye and the cheeks and throat are whitish. There is often a pinkish flush to the underparts and a reddish stripe along the centre of the belly depending on the subspecies. The rump is brown and the tail and vent are dark. Females are similar to the males but are paler with less red on the belly. Juveniles are duller with little or no red on the belly, fainter dark barring and a black bill.