More about monkeys and birds in your garden…

Thought it worth mentioning that since my recent post about the reality concerning Vervet Monkeys and birds in gardens, we have had a rush of calls and emails telling us about gardens with monkeys AND birds.

Just yesterday I noticed that a pair of Laughing Doves, certainly one of the daintiest and most beautiful birds in the world, was mating in our front garden, at the same time as our local Vervet troop was also visiting. This pair of doves will obviously nest close by, and I really do hope that they will live long enough to raise a few generations of offspring. And my concern about their safety has nothing to do with the proximity of foraging monkeys!

Fact is that less than a year ago we had another pair of Laughing Doves breeding in the bottom of our garden. Then they both died, within a week of each other! One evening the female was pecking on the ground, only five meters from where Carol and I were standing watching monkeys in our exercise cages, when she was snatched by an African Goshawk. Nature at work, I know, but both Carol and I were devastated that such a gentle, pretty animal should die so violently, and right before our eyes! Still, we felt no antagonism towards the Goshawk. It too needs to eat to live, though I can’t help wishing that the whole food chain thing didn’t evolve so that one animal has to die so that another may live. Just doesn’t seem right. Anyway, a few days later the remaining dove was also on the Goshawk’s menu. Fortunately we were spared veiwing the killing, but not all the gory detail – proof of the deed was scattered under one of the trees, lots of soft feathers some even stuck to blood on the branch above, and on the ground below were two small, pinkish red legs and feet…

Funnily enough, I don’t hear any calls for Goshawks to be culled or relocated, except by those pigeon racers who lose the odd racing bird to an intrepid bird of prey, or bird breeders whose aviaries full of prisoners are irresistible temptation for hungry young Goshawks and Sparrowhawks having to fend for themselves or die of starvation.

So, give the monkeys a break, they really aren’t the villains some paint them to be, just as the letter below shows!

Hi Steve and Carol

Thank you for doing such a sterling job with the monkeys.

I just read your email regarding the destruction that the monkeys are supposed to do in your garden.

We stay on the Bluff and have 3- 4 different troops coming through our yard almost daily. We have a mostly indigenous garden and have the most trees and shrubbery in our area. (People move in, chop down trees and pave everywhere). We have 4 dogs, we have a resident genet that lives somewhere close by and pops in about 3-4 times a week, neighbours cats and a few grass type snakes. We also have a flourishing bird-life. Weavers, Sparrows , Doves, Mannicans (the usual) as well as Brown Hooded Kingfisher, Woodpecker, Barbet, Natal Robin, Paradise Flycatcher. There is also a Sparrow Hawk that flies through here regularly. We have bats at night and loads of frogs.

Recently a Hadeeda hatched its little chick in our tree right outside our kitchen door. It also happens to be the tree that the mommy monkey’s use to train their little ones to jump from branch to branch. All that happened was that the mother and father Hadeeda sat on a branch close to the chick. When the baby monkeys came a little to close to the chick, the parents would fly at the monkey. However, it is almost as if the monkeys knew it was a chick, they very seldom went too close.

This is just to say all of these can live in harmony, including the humans.

The sizes of the troops definitely have become smaller in the past 14-15 years that we have been in this house.

Thanks again for everything.

Michele & Robbie Slabbert