Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Birds and the Bumbling

Living in the inner city, usually the only wildlife I see on a regular basis are intoxicated stilletto wearing young girls, and equally intoxicated male companions. Their habitat is all around me, college kid bars, cheap souvlaki joints and a plethora of even cheaper Asian noodle shops. This is not the wildlife I wish to attract to the balcony garden and they are fairly easily shooed away.

I did want to attract other wildlife, a few birds, in particular some lovely and brightly coloured ones. I one saw rainbow lorikeets in the trees in the middle of the road and wanted to bring them closer.

Um, well. I do read blogs for research guidelines and for ideas on how to attract such birds. I fully intended on following these. And then I completely ignored everything and went with an impulse buy of a little baby bird house.

I fully intended to put something native birds would like to eat in it. Do you think I ever put anything edible or attractive in it? Um nope. But it HAS attracted wildlife, at least in the form of generations of spiders and now I'm certainly not going anywhere near it, and nor are the birds.

Prue and bird time loveliness 0 Creepy Wildlife 1

Birds love water, or so learned people tell me. I haven't money for bird baths and am too lazy to go out and purchase one anyway and then have to bring it home, set it up, maintain it, etc, etc. Also in Melbourne we have a water crisis, or so I conveniently say and use this as an excuse. Once I put a little icecream container of water out to attract the lorikeets but no such luck. All that happened was that it got grimy with tyre dust and leaf litter. It also attracted wierd little creepy crawlies. Total grossness.

Prue and bird time loveliness 0 Creepy Wildlife 2

The plastic fanstastic icecream tub bird bath eventually got thrown away and the impulse buy bird/spider home now sits next to an ashtray. I keep the ashtray on the balcony for my few smoker friends at parties. I hasn't been used in a while and on rainy days it fills up with water.
Birds are fickle creatures, they didn't like the icecream tub bathing facilities but they did like the ashtray filled with water. Maybe they are nicotine freaks!?! While this ersatz bird drug den didn't entice the lorikeets over, I did get a whole lot of happily paddling sparrows. They may not be brightly coloured but they are cute.

(Ok yes, I admit the ashtray is empty in that photo, but you get the gist.) What's more, the sparrows stayed all spring, when the tomato crops were infected with cabbage moth caterpillars.

They would eat five or six caterpillars in a few minutes and then play in the water. It was an accidental paradise for the sparrows. Still no lorikeets but more and more birdy action.

Prue and bird time loveliness 1 Creepy Wildlife 2 (minus one from the eating) = 1

Harmony and balance and birdy goodness! Now I am not completely silly and I know there is much more I could do. I could plant more native vegetation to attract the lorikeets, but this would mean reducing the fruit and vegetable space. Balancing what you want out of a balcony garden where space is at a premium can be a tricky business. So for now I am leaving the lorikeets to their own devices. I have sparrows and they have an impromptu birdbath and autumn crops such as broccoli to keep them filled with green caterpillars. Seems to be working well so far.

So in short - if you are going to be so foolish as to ignore hard researched ideas for attracting animals and go for the cheap flashy option be warned, you will attract the wrong wildlife. However, if some flukish accidents help bring the wildlife to your balcony anyway then all the better.

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