For years I have wanted native hens to come into my garden having watched them in the distance in the paddock behind where I live. The stock fence behind my house was recently replaced with a rabbit proof one and while this was being constructed I once saw a small group come down to inspect what was going on and hoped they may return. But when the new fence was completed I thought there would be no chance as they could not get through.
However, this little ‘break away' group would often visit the gardens along our street having found that they were able to get through the fence on the western side of the paddock. Then one day I heard a noise outside my kitchen window and when I went to see what it was I discovered to my delight two native hens had found the broken plastic clam shell (as used for kids sandpits) which had some water in it from recent heavy rains.
They had a good wash and drink before taking off thinking they had not been noticed!!
A few days later I saw one bird running along the fence in an attempt to find a way through to my garden, so I went out and dug a hole under the fence.
They're smart birds and have quickly learnt that they can pass through the fence at this point. I have actually seen them racing at speed down the paddock aiming specifically for the hole under my fence.
I have another clam shell ‘pond' in the garden which they regularly use for a drink and bath. It's lovely to see them in the garden and to know that they have a source of water which they can easily (and safely) access - this is what has drawn them to my garden.
Many may not share my affection towards native hens, but they are charismatic birds with an interesting social structure and behaviours. They have a complex communication system both vocally and visually. One of their calls is very distinctive and has been described as a rasping ‘see saw' call. They are quite fascinating to watch and are welcome in my garden.