Winter birds & birding
There’s no reason for birdwatchers to go into hibernation during the winter months.
Yes, the migratory birds are still in northern, warmer climes. And, yes, our resident birds are not breeding; although it seems as if some Southern Masked Weavers have not waited until spring to initiate their nuptial activities. There are certainly many resident birds about and, with just a few hours of birdwatching in a suburban Gauteng garden, it is possible to record a dozen or more different bird species.
Some of the birds which are common in many gardens are the African Hoopoe, Laughing Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Sparrow, Karoo Thrush, Cape White-eye, Black-collared Barbet, White-bellied Sunbird, Cape Glossy Starling, Dark-capped Bulbul, Speckled Mousebird, and Grey Go-away-bird.
Winter is the time of year when less natural food is available. There are few insects about, and trees and shrubs are not fruiting. The Aloes and Wild Dagga are however flowering, and White-eyes, Bulbuls and Sunbirds exploit the nectar that these attractive plants’ bright flowers provide. With less natural food, the winter months are the best time of year to provide food for the birds in your garden.Wild bird seed, fruit, sugar water, and especially suet will be appreciated by your garden birds.Black-collared Barbet
With the focal area of bird activity then being at your bird feeders, winter birding is relatively easy.
The feeders can be positioned in parts of the garden which are visible through the lounge or bedroom window, or perhaps not too far from your veranda.
So, keep your binoculars close at hand, stock up on wild bird seed and suet balls from GardenShop, and spend a few weekend hours enjoying the antics of birds visiting your bird feeders and enjoying the food provided during these lean times.
CEO BirdLife South Africa