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This little birdfeeder is worth its weight in gold.

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People love attracting birds to their gardens because they bring life, movement, bird song, and hours of joy. Here the Red Bishops and the little Cape Sparrows vie for space, but somehow they all manage to get their share.

There are many types of bird feeders available, so select those you prefer - they all work well. It is incredible how quickly the birds find the food, it can be within hours, or perhaps a day or so at the most, but once they discover it you will find them returning time and again for their free smorgasbord! I don’t feed every day in summer because it becomes very expensive and they do still need to forage for their own food, but in winter I give a regular supply.

When selecting a place to hang your feeder, remember, although garden birds can become quite tame, at first they are quite shy and startle easily, so select a secluded place, perhaps close enough to your outdoor entertainment area, so you can watch the fanfare without disturbing them. Providing a bird bath will also help them spot the food, and water is much appreciated by our feathered friends, especially during hot and dry summer spells.

The Red Bishop (Euplectes ) is common in southern Africa, except for the Kalahari region, southern and coastal Namibia, and most of Botswana. They favour grasslands and savanna, but are rarely found far from permanent water. They are gregarious birds, forming large colonies in reed beds and the breeding male is easily recognisable by its distinctive bright red and black plumage. A single male may build a dozen nests or more in his territory, and acquire about seven wives in the course of a single breeding season!

The nest is most commonly built among reeds and is beautifully woven with grasses and other plant materials. It is snuggly designed and closed, with a side entrance under a small projecting ‘porch’, suspended between reeds or plant stems. Southern Red Bishops feed mainly on seeds and also on insects and other invertebrates, and they are able to catch dragonflies and damselflies on the wing.

Because they are also to be found in large numbers in areas cleared for cultivation, and can damage crops, these birds are not very popular with farmers, especially in the wheat-growing areas of the Western Cape, where they are considered a pest, but that does not mean we can’t attract them to our gardens.

I find it amazing how adaptable birds are and how quickly they become accustomed to our presence, at first they seem startled by any movement, and forget about trying to lift a camera up to film them, but within days they learn that you mean them no harm, so treat yourself with a feeder or two for your garden, you can even try one on your balcony if you don’t have a garden. The birds are sure to arrive in droves, much to the delight of everyone.


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