Mosgiel livestock vet Victoria Chapman has been delighted to discover more than a dozen fantails roosting snugly together on a jasmine vine in her shed.
Chapman has recently been living elsewhere while builders undertake renovations at her Bush Rd property, and was pleased to learn from them last week that the fantails had just started roosting in the brick farm shed.
The birds began roosting at dusk, shortly after 5pm, then flew off at dawn and, through the day, also visited the builders by flying into the nearby farmhouse while they worked, she said.
An old jasmine vine had grown not only on the shed's exterior wall, but had also ventured inside and through part of the roof, a loop of vine just below roof level providing a convenient indoor perch which was warmer than alternative roosts outside, exposed to winter winds.
"It's just a comfortable little perch for them up there. They sleep there overnight".
"I'm happy for the birds that they've found somewhere that they're happy to be," she said.
'I'm sure it's warmer in the shed — it's warmer than being out in the trees," she added.
"I like the way they chirp noisily at you. They're wonderful".
She also enjoyed watching the way the light, agile little birds jumped into their preferred position on the vine each evening, and shuffled along with and made room for each other before the nightly side-by-side roosting.
Hearing from the builders about her recent visitors had been a "beautiful surprise".
She and her friends remained intrigued by the all-in-together heat-saving roosting technique on the vine.
"I haven't seen it before, that's for sure".
"I think they're a real discovery".