My Backyard: Red Wattle Bird

Over the weekend we discovered a disorientated baby bird in the backyard. The parent’s fervent attempts to coax the tiny fledgling to fly up to the nearest tree branch was failing miserably and the sun fast fading. We looked on for a while not wanting to interfere and risk the parents abandoning the baby altogether.

Eventually helmet boy stepped in, placing the bird inside a makeshift cardboard nest, to at least provide a warmer spot for the evening. It didn’t stay and was in the rain.  The parents were no longer around. So we made the decision to take it in for the night, and at this stage the poor little one was clearly defeated and didn’t object. It was light as a feather, so very tiny. The fledgling spent the night in a comfy warm towel nest inside a snug shoe box with air holes. A quick google and we identified the bird to be a red wattle honey eater bird. Reading a couple of blogs we found its diet consists of nectar from flowers and insects. Also interestingly these birds thrive in small native bushes where they can hide and shelter from larger birds who sometimes prey on them. And here I thought all birds were friends. Unfortunately being in a residential area and the threat of cats, this family of honey eaters have nested high in the gum tree, giving the little one a real good challenge at life.

We placed a little ramekin of water and a pinch of honey in the box. We heard no chirps or cries all night and I really thought the next morning he would be calling for food. But just silence. After confirming he was still alive, we placed the box in the winter sun to warm up. When we returned and opened the box he chirped and the parents appeared. He was clearly being a silent ninja all night. Reunited, the parents swooped down, chirped and began guiding him to the rear of the yard. But he still wasn’t the best at flying.

We left him for the whole day, checking in every now and then. We figured with the parents around his chance of survival was good if not great. In the event he couldn’t fly by evening time, we would bring the fledgling in and start the process all over again.

The devoted parents darted around constantly. Only to stop momentarily before chasing off the dopey pigeons or whatever flew into the yard.  Though they stopped attacking us when we came close to check in. They didn’t like our cat and made sure she retreated back into the house. Ironically our cat is scared of anything that moves and that includes folding bed sheets!  With every chirp for food, they raced around. By sunset the fledgling made it to a branch – we were stoked! I snapped a few photos. The fledgling moved branch by branch higher into the tree, before crossing to a nearby tree. The chirps disappearing into the sky.

The next morning he was back in the gum tree.


We were so happy with the outcome and unlike a David Attenborough documentary there was no tragedy in this backyard. We named the little one Fletcher!

I hope to bring you a series of sequels to the nature happenings in our backyard. We haven’t touched the backyard except for watering and mowing, and the passing wild life has kept us mostly entertained. Have you encountered any native birds or animals in the backyard or local park?

Useful blogs

Kirsty Brooks  – detailed account of caring and raising a honeyeater bird

Birdlife Australia – bird profiles in Australia

Wildlife Rescue – Caring for baby birds

Australian Plants Online – Advice on attracting native birds in the garden

Perth Zoo – tips on creating a home for native birds in your own backyard

DPAW’s advice on Baby Birds

Encouraging Honey Eater birds at home

The red wattle honey eater is found in the southern half of Australia, and quite common in Perth.

Create a water source like a pond or even a bucket of fresh water

Plant native trees and shrubs like, Eucalyptus caesia, Eucalyptus leucoxylon “rosea”, Bottlebrush, banksias and grevilleas, Grevillea “Robyn Gordon”, Kangaroo paw

Plant a sizeable section of low lying shrubs

Avoid chemicals, pesticides in the garden

According to the Perth zoo website, red, yellow and Orange native flowers attract thee honey eater. Additionally blue flowering plants attract insects and the honey eater loves insects.

Benefits of having these birds around

Beautiful ambiance in the backyard, the sounds

They assist pollination and seeding of flowers

They help the bee population survive

They love to eat insects, and keep the population in control


Photo source above: Kings Park website

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