What's in the backyard?

27 May 2019
Over the years we've lived here, I've grown to love the homing pigeons that live a few doors down. You can set your clock by them in the afternoon because they're let out at 4pm to fly for an hour before they voluntarily return to their home. I see them flying in group formation, in ever-widening circles, over our house and on the edge of the forest behind us. The leaders swoop in and out and seem to take turns at leading the group as they fly about.

One of the things I love about them is that they're a huge group of birds, possibly 80 or 90, and they're so quiet. Often I only know they're overhead when I see their shadows rush by over the lawn. But sometimes they come so close I hear a "swoosh" overhead and when I look up, they're gone again to continue the freedom flight they will never escape from.

It's surprising what you see in our backyard at times. We have Currawongs feasting on our native fig tree at the moment.  Groups of them fly in and out then perch on a horizontal branch and start eating small juicy figs. I love seeing our native wildlife eating local fruits. The willie-wagtails have returned for the cooler months. They arrive mid-autumn and the flashy black and white male always makes himself known to us. During the day he flies in and out, swooping and hopping around the yard.

This morning, the bullies of the backyard, the noisy miners, tried to harass the willie-wagtail. Willie had swooped into the front verandah to watch me sweep. Sometimes there will be an Asian gecko in the sweepings and he'll grab it and fly off.  Asian geckos are an introduced species and are killing off our smaller native geckos. But this morning the willie-wagtail took no notice of the miners, hopped over to the edge of the verandah, then watched and waited, but there were no geckos today.

We've had a family of kookaburras living in the trees surrounding our home since we arrived here. They are blue-winged kookaburras and they love sitting on the fence next to our compost heap. We've seen them dive bomb into the compost and come up with a grub or grasshopper and once I saw one of the young ones swoop down on to the lawn and grab a small snake. He flew to the fence and whip cracked the snake, breaking it's neck before he ate it.

At various times of the year we've also had the odd echidna and possum, foxes, a few huge snakes and bandicoots.  We encourage wildlife to live in our backyard and we reap the benefits of them being part of the biodiversity while providing us with a balanced system in our backyard.  What animals live outside your house?


  1. It's great to have wildlife in your back yard. About a month or so ago I was coming down the main road near our place [a mountain as such] and the car in front of me served a little away from the edge of the road to the middle and I wondered why all of a sudden he did that then I saw what looked like a decent black rock about half a metre into our land and then I realized he was serving to miss the rock and as we got closer it was moving and it was an echidna I could not believe it...it was amazing since it's really suburbia but this has bushland on either side - so glad it didn't get hit if it crossed the 3 lane road. I've lived here for 8 years and been on that road thousands of times so it was so exciting I squealed with excitement.

    1. I don't blame you Kathy. Echidnas are always exciting, and cute.

  2. Hi Rhonda,
    I love watching the birds come and go too. We have flocks of New Holland Honeyeaters come in around 4pm to feast on grevillea and then splash around in the bird bath.
    I often think encouraging the birds is equally as rewarding as keeping a pet. Though of course they don't replace the chooks.

  3. Hi Rhonda,

    We have kangaroos and wallabies, feral goats and pigs, deer, rabbits, snakes, usually brown ones, the odd echidna, goannas and birds. We used to have a great diversity of birds but many have moved on to greener pastures in this severe drought. I miss them and their constant music. We still have crows, currawongs, magpies, blue wrens and a family of spotted bower birds, which are amazing mimics, almost as good as the lyrebird.

    I'm glad to have wildlife around our place and visitors love watching kangaroos from our verandahs.

    God bless.
    Lyn in northern New South Wales.

  4. Hi Rhonda
    I love the sound of your wildlife which is so exotic.We live in England and have lots of birdlife in the garden- robins, blue tits, wrens and all the other common garden birds plus visitors like swallows, woodpeckers, buzzards, kestrels and at night we can hear owls in the nearby trees. Pigeons are a menace to our veg garden as are rabbits. We also have mice and shrews, frogs and visits sometimes from grass snakes, foxes, stoats, slow worms, badgers, adders and a barn owl came down our chimney once and sat on the sideboard blinking at us.
    Beekeepers have lots of hives in the woods so we often have bees swarming at this time of year.
    We try to encourage wildlife with nectar rich plants, a pond and some wilder patches with nettles.

  5. Hi Rhonda

    I love it when we get native animals visiting. We have the odd blue tongue visiting and we also get grass parrots. We also get lorikeets visiting. We also have a park at the bottom of our street and you can be inside and hear the kookaburras singing in the trees.


  6. Lots of pigeons here, Rhonda. Sigh! On a brighter note there are kookaburras, cockatoos, crows, miners and lots of other types of birds. Then there are possums that have a party on the roof at 2am just to keep us on our toes. There is always something going on in the backyard to keep up with. It is never a dull place I must say.

  7. I don't feel so comfortable with the huge snakes Rhonda.lol

  8. I love this post about nature in your backyard! I had to look up a few of your native species as they are unfamiliar to me in Texas. My apartment backs up to a nature preserve and I have seen so much wildlife over the years: Coyotes, grey foxes, deer, hawks, red winged blackbirds, armadillos and of course, the ever present squirrels, cardinals and mourning doves. My favorite are the hummingbirds who fly to m porch feeder. The natural world restores me ever single day!

  9. Oh do we have a wonderful assortment of living beings coming through our yard. We have the most amazing large owl (I do not know what kind). I love to watch him/her. The patience they have amazes me. I once watched the feasting of a quail.

    We have 100s of quail come through twice a day feasting on whatever they find in our garden soil and taking their dirt bathes on dry days.

    We've had deer in our backyard.

    We have a squirrel couple that have lived in our big trees for many years. There were 2 couples but 1 pair is gone.

    I'm not a birder, but we get migrating birds as well. The most notable is primarily black with a bold yellow breast. A Chat perhaps?

    On occasion we have mourning doves. I rarely see them but I hear them somewhere nearby.

    Raccoons seem to like our neighborhood as well. A Momma, nearly 3ft tall scared me one morning as she stood up at the window with those glowing eyes!

    And of course the neighborhood wandering cat is always fun as he taunts my indoor-only cats :-)

    Thanks for the lovely tour of your living gardens.

  10. We have rabbit,fox, squirrel, I live watching for them, and whitetail deer....which are nothing more than garden destroying vermin really. My favorites are the neighborhood owl, the bald eagles (watch your small dogs please) and the carpenter bee that owns our shed. We've named him Humphrey.

  11. Hi Rhonda,
    I use to have a lovely bearded dragon, which moved to quieter lands when I got my two dogs. I have the occasional possum (not so occasional as they regularly eat the flowers on my balcony), two couples of lovely king parrots that are coming at the moment, the kookaburras that make my days every morning with their laughs. But the most common wild life, to my regrets, are still the bush rats and all sorts of spiders (red back, white tails, St Andrews cross and fennel web, that I don't like so much, huntsman make me laugh as they never fail to make visitors scream, and orb waiving that make such huge and beautiful glistening webs, which the kids never fail to bump into when running outside in the morning). Lately I also got 2 lyrebirds trying to get to the compost bin. I've seen them once, and regularly see their footprints on the floor but haven't been able to see them again.
    Corinne in the BM

  12. I live in an older (circa 1950-60's) surburban neighboorhood, adjacent to a newer development of "McMansions" where a woods once stood. We have a surprising variety of creatures visit us-- white tailed deer, groundhogs, eastern gray squirrels, red foxes (seem to be making a come back), blue jays, cardinals, mockingbirds, robins, an occasional owl, red tailed hawks, a variety of woodpeckers, snakes (small ones, recently discovered under a flower pot!). We used to have bats in the summer but unfortunately they seem to be gone.

  13. We live in a rural area in the midwest US. We have woods, fields & a lake so lots of wildlife here....fox, rabbits, deer, coyote, armadillo to name a few & lots of birds, everything form tiny hummingbirds to songbirds (cardinal, oriels, jays, ect) & birds of prey (hawk, eagle, owl). We have resident turtles, lots of snakes & salamanders & some beautiful butterflies.

  14. Our house faces north to the main street of a smallish village but our backyard drops into a wooded lot with a field and creek behind it. We have a lot of animals that I consider a nuisance but I suppose they think the same of us. We have raccoons, groundhogs, skunks, chipmunks, moles, mice, snakes, owls, ferral cats, deer, and many species of birds including my favorites: Cardinal, Blue Jay, Robin, asst. woodpeckers.

  15. Your echidna look somewhat like our hedgehogs.We live in a small pocket of a suburb that backs up to a wooded area. Because of that we get deer, hedghogs, moles, voles, rabbits, 3 different types of squirrels, Turkey vultures 2 different types of owls and shakes, frogs and 40-50 kinds of birds.
    We looked at 127 different homes before we found this one. I plan on making this my last move!

  16. We encourage wildlife also and enjoy watching them. We live in Williamsport, Indiana, US. Learning about your wildlife is wonderful! I read your blog whenever you publish and I am grateful to know you. Many thanks! Dianna

  17. My 16ac property was clear slashed and had 4cows on it when I came here 12 yrs ago. I stopped slashing to let small trees grow to bring back the wildlife. My horses also benefit from the diverse pasture.
    I have pretty face wallabies, bandicoots, echindnas, bush rats, possums, 100+ species of birds both meat/insect eating and seed eaters, ground, water and aerial dwellers in a good proportion, frogs (and toads!), turtles, the occasional snake, lizards (although a visitor recently drove up the driveway and ran over the last remaining bearded dragon female ladden with mature eggs as she sun baked). So sad.
    I don't feed any of them although I grow a garden full of edible plants and habitat specially for the wildlife.
    Everything now lives here because all the landholders around me, as far to the horizon as I can see, slash or mow their blocks into green lawn deserts. They have no habitat.
    Currently I'm negotiating with Birds Australia to turn my property into a sanctuary for the red backed wren.
    This bird (as with most wrens) needs 2year old grass to nest in. Who leaves their grass 2yrs without grazing it down or mowing it down?
    The bladey grass grows up to a height of 1-1.3m (3-4ft), dries a bit, then comes the storm season which causes it to bend over in thick ropes and for new green grass to begin growing up from under it.
    Only then does it become suitable for the wrens to use as a nesting place. The patch of grass they choose will be at least 20square metres in area with their nest in the middle and with a few small twiggy saplings or weeds sticking up out of the grass to a height of 6ft(2m) which the birds use as vantage points.
    When I slash my paddocks, I mow down the old unued patches to rotate the old grass so there are always new grass patches coming on for the birds and other critters. This also ensures my horses don't flog any one area into thin lawn which makes the ground go hard and lets too many weeds grow.
    I never slash in the breeding season which unfortunately upsets all including council, because it coincides with fire season.
    The numerous wattles are breaking into flower this week, so there will be all sorts of extra birds and animals for a while.
    I also attempt to grow a vegie garden but most gets eaten by wildlife unfortunately which is frustrating for me. Its amazing how the bandicoots can get up onto the old plastic chairs I use to hold containers of vegetables. They did the soil or potting mix out of the tubs to get any worms or beetle larvae. Its not like I don't create suitable foraging places for them at ground level! They just must inspect every place! So I have to put pieces of broken bricks in my tubs to dissuade the bandicoots.

  18. eastern gray kangaroos, many mobs of various sizes; bridle face wallabies; some quolls, though not sure if they are still around since the neighbour bulldozes down a small corridor of trees; some quail, though haven't seen those for awhile either; lots of lizards, kookaburras (all 3 species? i think) kurrawongs, magpies, the odd butcher bird & honey eaters & lots of insects too; i have many neighbours who like to feed the birds, i don't, rather try & grow trees & shrubs for them; & of cos many of the rodents running around which the snakes of varying types come to feed on.
    lovely seeing your gardens & hearing who roams them
    have a wonderful week
    thanx for sharing

  19. Oh, there are all kinds of animals here, too. We have king snakes, rattlers, garter snakes, coyotes, mountain lions, possums, raccoons, and road runners. We also have owls, hawks, crows, ravens, robins, wood peckers, mourning doves, sparrows, starlings, and several other birds. They love the birdbath. Oh, I get numerous hummingbirds, too. The garden and compost seem to attract everything...I love it. My neighbors have horses, goats, llamas, alpacas, and chickens.

  20. Oh my goodness, the echidna is such a cute little creature. Thank you for all the animal links, loved checking up what they looked like. Your yard sounds like such s lovely place. Are the snakes dangerous? We have a lot of black grouse here and the odd wood grouse. There is a lone eagle living on a small island in the lake here too. Love it when he glides past my lounge widows. We had a wolf pass by a few years back, just by my post box. We have moose, deer and rabbits, foxes and a lot of small lizards. The occasional snake. My cats chase all the birds away, so I only see them in the sky sadly. The Swallows have returned for Summer. Love the swallows. Blessings, Pam in Norway

    1. Hi Pam. Echidnas are delightful. They are one of the two monotremes in the world, the other is the platypus. Monotremes are mammals that lay eggs. Echidna babies are called puggles, cute eh? The snakes are dangerous to the chooks and they come here to eat either the eggs or the smaller chickens. They are pythons, so non-venomous. We also have poisonous snakes but they're in and out so fast you only see a tail before they disappear. I'd love to see a wolf walk by.

    2. Thank you for taking the time to reply, that is really interesting!

  21. We don't have many birds here now (Mornington Peninsula Victoria. Unfortunately the area has become a tourist mecca and I have seen many native species disappear in the 40 years I have lived here. Although in saying that, after horrific fires in other parts of the state we now have lots of parrots which were previously unheard of. Thankyou Rhonda with providing me hours of interesting reading. I don't normally comment on blogs but I just wanted to say "Thankyou" xx

  22. I live within the city limits of a U.S. mid-western city (population 3.6 million in our entire metro area of 8 counties). It seems the diversity of wildlife in my back yard just keeps increasing. I've seen raccoons, a variety of "typcial" birds (robins, cardinals, blue jays, finches, crows, wrens, hummingbirds, etc.), as well as bald eagles, a great horned owl, a cooper's hawk, mallard ducks, wild turkeys, and this year, for the first time, an egret! I was in the house and saw this huge wingspan and then saw long skinny legs hanging down. S/he landed in a large tree next door. My neighbors were out working in their yard and I rushed over and we had a fit (in whispers) right there! Sadly, I do think the local songbird population is decreasing (maybe in part due to the increase in raptors?). It used to be on summer mornings there would be so many birds singing so loudly that it would wake me up. That hasn't happened during the last few years. Thanks for sharing your backyard list Rhonda - I had never heard of many of your visitors before - and Echidnas are very cute! Beth in MN

  23. I'm lucky to have a lot of visitors. One favourite is the sacred kingfisher. I love the bee eaters and their bell like call and golden underwings - it always says summer to me when I hear them. And the arrival of the gorgeous scarlet robins says winter is coming. Also echidnas, wallabys, kangaroos in the paddock, and once a koala in a tree!!

  24. I live in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. In our yard we have some of the cutest little bunnies. I love watching them. We also have a couple families of squirrels. We have a family of hummingbirds as well that come to the feeder frequently. We have numerous birds including a large flock of doves which I wish would find a home as they are very messy and noisy.
    My little poodle loves to flush out the bunnies and squirrels and they love to out run him every time.
    We have lots of dogs in the neighborhood now so not as much wildlife as we once had.
    I have really enjoyed this topic and reading everyone's responses. Fun times!

  25. We have a chap who comes to the end of our driveway to release his homing pigeons - he then drives home through the traffic and they are always home before he is. He is a fascinating guy, and we love chatting to him as my hubby's grandpa was into breeding racing pigeons when hubby was young. The last time we met him he was telling us that he had a lot of new birds and was training them by putting the more experienced birds in the same bunch and then letting them go, so the older ones show the younger ones the ropes. So amazing to see them all flying, such a massive number of birds turning this way and that as one, never bumping into each other. So cool!

  26. I am living in a small Midwest college town in Indiana. My house is turning 120 years old this year. It's really just a sweet cottage. I feed the local birds and have Cardinals, doves, green & yellow finches, and others I'm uncertain of their names. We do have several owls living in large trees in houses surrounding mine. I've seen two red 🦊, looking to steal kittens I presume. Then there is the prairie dog living under my neighbors shed. It's all rather quiet and you must be up very early to catch site of them. My 3 cats would love to live in the garden, but due to danger, they get supervised adventures, and a long large wire cage to sun themselves in. They have learned to run in the back door when I say "time to go home." I love puttering around in my garden, caring for the birds who nest at my place every year.
    Have you ever read Tasha Tudor books? She was quite an interesting lady. She created a magical life for her family buy doing things the old fashioned way. Her books encourage me to keep going & make life what I need it to be. I love how you've done the same thing, but in modern manner. Take care, & thank you.

    1. Yes, I know of Tasha. I used to keep up with her adventures before she died. She was such a wonderful role model and seemed to be a sweet lady.



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