Do our small birds have any choice: drink, drown, or dehydrate?

24 Sep 2015

By way of introduction this discussion is being promoted by Del. Richards who is involved with “Bird Talk Back” a monthly programme on ABC Radio Far North in Cairns. In view of my country background as one who knows about drought, I feel a deep concern for the well being of our small bush birds such as finches and honeyeaters, some of which have the need to drink on an almost hourly basis. Others that are stronger flyers and need to drink less often.


Right now many cattle troughs are too low (deep) for small birds which is a wasted opportunity to access water in the landscape. This project is in it's early days with research under way by NGRMG to develop some simple means of assisting smaller birds to drink from troughs (see above image). In the meantime I urge the station ladies at the Cobbold Gorge Retreat to take home with them some of the ideas stated below to endeavour to assist in changing circumstances around cattle troughs for our native bird life. Lifiting water levels in troughs to more accessible levels only means spillage and therefore remains impractical.

During drought cattle and horses will chew most plastics and lift items out of the water for the sake of something to do. Therein lies a problem.

Therefore, some methods I suggest are:

1. To place a piece of pipe (old or new) from the deep end diagonally to the opposite far top corner allowing birds to come down to water level;
2. A plastic milk crate which floats upside down with the base above water level, these need to be anchored in the trough;
3. Similarly, alternative materials such as steel from old wind-mills could be used as described above.  


In the long term it is hoped to develop a plastic floating device that is the correct shape and composition that can be mass produced to service our declining bird populations. The application of this idea could go Australia wide. Please examine this idea on their behalf.  


If you trial any of these methods I would be pleased to hear from you about your experience, or recommendations you may have for a future product.

Contact

Del. Richards
info@finefeathertours.com.au or (07) 4094 1199