A few feathered friends

Gardens are one of the places that can bring so much pleasure and delight not just for the humans. The garden that I have created is always evolving as trees planted by my partner grow and spread. The rainfall or lack of. The garden that surrounds my home is a place for nature. I plant to encourage bird life. I ensure that there is water at different levels and flowers in every season if possible. It seems I am very rarely without birds and their songs in the garden.

Welcome Swallow possibly a juvinelle

These small birds live all over Australia even seen flying between city buildings, from the desert to the sea. They got there name because sailors noted them as they flew about the sea indicating that land was not far. Or as a sign of Spring (Imbolc) returning as I read in another site.
They build mud nests under bridges, walls of buildings, verticle rock walls the nest is a snug lined with fur and feathers. Both parents build the nest.
They are aerial acrobats swooping and turning as they chase insects that are their food source. A variety of insects are eaten. The insect is guided into the bird’s wide, open mouth with the help of short rictal bristles bordering the bill. These bristles also help protect the bird’s eye.
I often sit out and watch them flying about my place. I have lived here a long time and have never had a nest built on the house. I would love one. (many people would think I am crazy).

New England Honey Eater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae)

These striking little birds are hard to miss but they are easy to confuse with another bird. The White-cheeked Honeyeater is about the same size and has similar colouring to the New Holland Honeyeater. If the bird has the white eye it is the New Holland Honeyeater.
After the Dutch navigators charted the northern, western and southern coasts of Australia during the 17th Century this newly found continent became known as ‘New Holland’ These little birds are named New Holland from this name.

New Holland Honeyeaters are active feeders.They mostly eat the nectar of flowers, and busily dart from flower to flower in search of this high-energy food. Other food items include fruit, insects and spiders. Birds may feed alone, but normally gather in quite large groups. Most feeding takes place in lower areas of bushes and thickets

The long, curved beak these honeyeaters have are perfect for reaching deep into a flower to get to the sweet nectar inside.

These birds get their name from the first name given to Australia (New Holland). It was called New Holland because the Dutch were the first Europeans to visit here.

New Holland Honeyeaters have two breeding peaks, in summer and winter, when they build two different nest types. Their winter nest is built at the top of a bush facing the northern sun to keep it warm. In summer they build their nest deep in the bush away from the heat and the sun.

Striated Pardolte (Pardalotus striatus)

The Striated Pardalote can be found throughout much of Australia, and across this range there are numerous populations and subspecies. Despite being tiny birds, some populations undertake remarkable migratory movements, while others remain in the same area throughout the year. In some populations, some of the birds migrate while others remain behind. Clearly, the movements of the Striated Pardalote are complex. The best-known migratory population breeds in Tasmania and makes regular seasonal movements across Bass Strait, where they mix with various mainland-breeding populations.

Striated Pardalotes feed in the foliage in the tops of trees, although occasionally coming close to the ground in low shrubs. They eat a wide variety of insects and their larvae, which are usually captured by picking them from the surfaces of leaves. Feeding takes place in small groups and birds maintain contact with soft trills.

During breeding season, Striated Pardalotes form pairs or small groups of up to six birds. The nest is constructed close to the ground, usually in a tree hollow or tunnel, excavated in an earthen bank; small openings in human-made objects are frequently used. The birds display regularly at the entrance to the nesting chamber, and vigorously guard the vicinity against other pardalotes. Both sexes incubate and care for the young birds. Other members of the group may also help with the feeding of the young.

These are just three of the visitors to my garden. I am so fortunate and keep planting to attract more birdlife, bees, butterflies and dragonflies. Along with the wallabies, bancicoots, quolls and the tasmania devils who I heard fighting last night on the old dam wall. The possums that chase each other over my metal roof during mating season, and the one that makes Busby bark in the wee small hours of the night waking me in fright. I certainly can not forget the wonder of having an echidna or two that roams across my paddock and garden. How wonderful to have and be creating such a home for us all. To live in harmony.

I will be woken in the morning with no alarm clock but the sweet sounds of so many birds hopefully not demanding me to fill the water bowl…(just checked it and it is full).

I am thankful to have these wonderful birds feel welcome in the garden. Mother earth is so wonderful if you plant the things the birds and animals enjoy, they will come.

Blessings to you all Tazzie

Why I love Echidnas!

I love Echidnas! (also known as Spiny ant Eaters colloquially ). I have Echidnas who live and visit my garden and in the surrounding bush. I wanted to share what makes these animals so awesome.

The Long beaked (nose) Echidna found in the Highlands of New Guinea, Indonesian Papua, and the Short beaked (nose)found in Australia. Even though some people call them Spiny ant Eaters they are not related to them at all! Nor to Hedgehogs, Porcupines or Pangolins.

Long Beaked Echidna. are in danger even as they are eaten by indigenous people in the hills of New Guinea and Papua, They are also in danger from deforestation.

The western long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijni), The eastern long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bartoni), Sir David Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus attenboroughi) is one of the three species of the genus Zaglossus. (https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-five-species-of-monotremes-living-today.html) If you wish to know more about the Long Beaked Echidna please look up the link above.

@Echidna Home 2019

The Short Beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) is the smaller of the two. In Tasmania you can often see them especially by the edges of the roads and even crossing the roads. Sadly as they move slowly they do get hit by cars.

I am very fortunate to have at least one living in and about my property. I will go into more about their territory and life in another post.

@Echidna Home 2019
@Echidna Home 2019.

They are amazing and fascinating animals.

Mammals are a diverse group, but all mammals-

  • produce milk to feed their young
  • have hair or fur
  • have a unique jaw structure
  • are warm-blooded

Echidnas are mammals? Yes.

But they have spines (which are actually tough hair folicles). Yes but they also have fur to keep them insulated so in colder regions you will see that Echidnas have longer fur covering some of their spines. If you compare my local Echidna with the picture below of an Echidna from NSW with a warmer climates you can see that it has less fur covering its back. So yes they have fur. Check. You can see more of it in the curled up photo on the right below.

(Tachyglossus aculeatus)
Image: Stuart Humphreys © Australian Museum
A Short Beaked Echidna is pictured with its snout to the surface of a wet rock. Its spines are yellow with a black tip, whilst its snout appears to be a bluish-brown colour. The echidna is an oval shape, with a ball-like appearance.
Image: Kathy Atkinson
© Australian Museum

Mammals are warm blooded, yep Echidnas are warm blooded.

Echidnas and Platypus are Monotremes, they lay eggs and their babies hatch.

Echidnas breed in Winter. Now the mother doesn’t have a pouch all the time. It is pretty amazing how she creates one; she does this by contracting her abdominal muscles which then forms a fold which is secure enough to hold the egg and puggle after hatching. (WIRES Northern Rivers. http://www.wires.org.au) and a single soft shelled egg is laid (like birds and reptiles).

The puggle (a baby Echidna) hatches out of the egg after about 10 days. As it is developing the puggle will grow a tooth structure, like chicks have, known as a ‘egg tooth’ a small sharp structure on a chicks beak to help it break the shell and hatch. Watch the video (below) of a puggle hatching and see if you can spot its egg tooth. Puggles are born blind with no spines or fur and it will be about the size of a jelly bean 1.45cms and can weigh in at as little as 380milligms/0.0134041ozs! (https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/native-animals/native-animal-facts/echidnas)

Echidna pouch after loss of egg or small puggle
@Leoni Byron-Jackson http://www.wiresnr.org/echidna.html
A one month old puggle. It will stay in its mother’s pouch for about two months, spending all of its time lapping up milk and sleeping
© Chris Eastland/ZooBorns 

Since there is no nipple for the puggle to cling too it will cling to its mothers fur about her belly with its front legs that are incredibly developed and strong. but clings with its well developed front legs to the hairs on the mother’s belly.

Mammals feed their young milk. Check.

Whilst most mammals have nipples Monotremes do not. Instead in Echidnas the mother produces milk and it is excreted through the milk patches. Areas of the mothers stomach flat skin on either side of the pouch about where you would find teats or nipples on other mammals. The milk is excreted and the puggle will suckle at the patches not lick them. Patches are located on either side of the pouch approximately where one would expect a teat or a nipple to be.

Image result for how do  echidna puggles drink from their mothers
Newman has been reared, with keepers feeding him a milk mixture
out of the palm of their hands. Credit: News Corp Australia, Taronga Zoo

The young laps at the milk patches, it does not suckle. Echidnas, the Different Mammal Dr. Peggy Rismiller OAM Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005

@Image by Sharon McGrigor
69 day old Puggle being raised at Western Australia’s Perth Zoo.. This is of an age where it would no longer be living in its mother pouch. You can see its ear fold an the spines beginning to develop @Perth Zoo Western Australia.

The puggle stays in the pouch for a further approximately 50 days until it starts to develop its spines, at which time mum will dig a nursery burrow in which she will leave the puggle. http://www.wiresnr.org/echidna.html The Puggle suddenly finds itself no longer clinging to its mother feeding when ever it desires warm snug and safe in its nestled in its mothers pouch. It now finds itself alone in a much cooler place where its mother will only return to feed it once every five days and it will only be with the puggle for a few hours. Echidnas, the Different Mammal Dr. Peggy Rismiller OAM Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005 (Rismiller 1999; Rismiller and McKelvey 2009)

It goes from clinging to the belly of its mother and having access to the milk patch at all times to being left alone in a cool (15 – 18°C) chamber .

@Taronga Zoo Sydney NSW AU, 2016

Many of us have had encounters with these animals in the garden, where they may dig them selves in to the ground, if this happens it is due to the animal being frightened, leave it alone, remove the threat (usually the family dog) and the echidna will go on its way once it feels secure. We can not relocate an echidna, they are solitary animals and have a territory, and if removed from this territory they will make every effort to return, crossing unfamiliar territory, also as we do not know if it is a male or female it could have a puggle waiting in a hollow for the next feed. wires.org.au

If you are interested in reading more about Echidnas and their lives I will be posting more on these endearing unique animals.

Tazzie

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: