Fiona's New Peewee Friends
Making Friends with the Wild Birds
in my New Home Range
by Fiona Darroch
I have always loved the Australian Bush and its wonderful creatures, including birds. However since coming to know Gitie, my eyes have been opened in a way that has totally transformed how I regard and relate to wild birds. The idea that you can befriend them at first seemed a bit fanciful. Like many people who have a general appreciation of the natural world, I tended to look ‘at’ birds, and admire them, but in a manner somewhat detached from their world and being. My Toowoomba-based friendship with Gitie changed all that.
When we settled here in Yeronga (4th address in 16 months), I was delighted to find so many different birds. Being near the river and having lots of green space floodplain around certainly helps! I noticed how much the fruit bats and parrots relied on the aging ‘native’ street plantings – Grevilleas, Bottlebrushes, etc. that were fashionable in the 70s. Many of these trees are now frail and losing their vigour. I immediately thought that there needed to be some ‘next generation’ plantings so the birds, bats and possums had food security. Fashion dictated that later street plantings tended to be of less valuable trees food-wise. We do lots of local walks, and I spoke to a few neighbours who also appreciate the birds, about this problem. I also visited my local councillor and member of parliament to garner their support. They were very helpful and gave me useful background information about the area and council’s policies.
Pic above: Our local Pee Wee family (I call it ‘Cheeky Bird’) - atop our camper trailer in the front yard in the rain puddles… “First I look”,
As we were doing a large owner-builder renovation and extension of our house, our yard was under extended siege, and required a complete revamp. So I decided to start by planting a few bird food trees on the nature strip by the footpath. I am a keen watcher of Gardening Australia on the ABC, and was inspired by Costa, the Greek anchor who had been showcasing a community verge garden in his street. So I decided to follow his lead and incorporate my bird food efforts with food plants for people, and a few just for colour and fun. Like him, I wanted to share some food plants (mainly citrus and herbs), with my neighbours, and encourage people to use and enjoy them.
Pic above: “Then I drink”,
I had been extremely busy, but was so determined to get it underway in 2012, that I started with a ‘New Year’s Eve big dig’ – in the midst of a heatwave! The soil is poor and sparse, barely covering a ridge of solid shale. Quite unlike the gardening Heaven I had experienced as a Toowoomba resident. I bought some mulch hay from a farmer in the Lockyer valley and am slowly making my way along.
Pic above: “Then I bathe”. He also comes up onto the upstairs verandah in sight of my desk, squawks very loudly, eats the cat food, has a momentary rest and poos on the wide timber arms of my ‘Morris’ (William) chairs, and then has a bath in my Mother’s bird bath.
My efforts have been so deeply rewarded, including a delightful acceptance and enjoyment from locals. Lots of people stop to chat, and even the postman stopped one day to say how much he enjoys what I am doing – I thought at first he might object, though I have been careful to keep plantings well clear of the footpath.
Pic below: A pair of Kookaburras sometimes visit a nearby light pole where I can see them from my desk. They are one of my favourite birds. I go and have a chat to them. This light pole seems to be a popular territorial marker for a family of Magpies, as well as the Pewees!
Thanks Fiona for sharing your lovely birds and tremedous gardening efforts that are 'making a difference". -- Gitie