05 September 2012 by Julienne du Toit

Calling all birds

Parks and reserves always offer excellent birding. But don’t discount the common birds that loiter around the campgrounds and chalets, always with an eye out for a crumb or 6.

Southern masked weavers are always on the lookout. Photo Chris Marais

Birds are wise to humans and our careless ways with crumbs. Their beady little eyes miss nothing.

Anything to eat? Photo Chris Marais

You’ll get a pretty good idea of the prominent seed-eaters in the area if you – oh, whoops – drop a slice of bread, a rusk or a muffin.

Which is probably why you can call up a bird party at the drop of a hat (or a rusk) in a national park. At these places, where all beasts are supposed to be wild, the birds seem to be doing their level best to get tamed down.

They adore rest camps, and generally carry on as if the place was designed for them, frolicking in the sprinklers and nesting in human-created spaces.

You’ll get a pretty good idea of the prominent seed-eaters in the area if you – oh, whoops – drop a slice of bread, a rusk or a muffin.

In will swoop the sparrows, the yellow weavers with their crazy red eyes, and the glossy starlings, to do inglorious battle for your scraps.

You’ll get some fruit eaters too, like bulbuls, which are actually quite omnivorous, especially in desert regions where fruit is seldom available.

There may also be the odd red or yellow bishop, although you may not recognise them in winter when they’re not in their resplendent colours.

The curious and confiding Cape robin-chats will come to see what all the fuss is about, but they prefer more protein than the grain-eaters.

And then the dim-witted doves and pigeons will click that a party has started without them, and crash-land in the middle.

An unseemly squabble over crumbs. Photo Chris Marais

Category: Wildlife


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