Red-Billed Queleas make their appearance

By Warren Dick

Some folks have noticed some rather strange looking sparrows at their bird feeders over the past few weeks; however these are not sparrows at all but are rather Red Billed Queleas.

After a recent post that I put onto Facebook about these in my garden a lot of other folks right around Durban have also noticed these birds in their gardens in just the past two months.

Red Billed Queleas are indigenous to most parts of Southern Africa, however they are migratory birds within their range. The main reason for their migrations is for food. In many parts these birds can fly in huge flocks consisting of many thousands of individuals. Because of this and the fact that they can do large scale damage to grain crops they are often seen as a pest and have earned a nickname of “Feathered Locusts”. Sadly in many areas these birds are even poisoned with pesticide to try control their numbers.

However in our urban gardens they are a welcome burst of colour, cute chirps and lively activity. Every afternoon my neighbours put seeds out for the birds and I get to watch around 50 of these Sparrow sized birds playing in their tree. Let’s enjoy these little birdies for as long as they choose to visit our gardens.

Lauren Beukes

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