Category Archives: Bird Behaviour

A home of grass and spider webs…

Taking a long slow walk around the Baldry Circuit at Green’s Bush, I am still finding many birds hard at work building nests and feeding young. Some of the early starters like the Pardalotes, Rosellas and the Eastern Yellow Robins are just about done with many new juveniles now flitting amongst the branches waiting for a free feed from their parents. Another group are just starting their breeding duties. A pair of busy Grey Fantails were flying in and out of the lower branches of an Acacia. The material they were collecting was a mix of finely shredded dried grass and spider webs interwoven into a small goblet shape that the Fantail could barely sit in. A fantastic little structure fit for purpose for just a few months and then will disappear.

Grey Fantail, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

Grey Fantail building a nest, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

Grey Fantail, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

II

Grey Fantail, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

III

Grey Fantail, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

IV

Grey Fantail, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

Off for more spider-web

Further around the track I found another Eastern Yellow Robin’s nest that appeared to be done for the season. It was empty inside and I waited for a while nearby to see if any Robins visited but none appeared. It is also made up of finally stripped bark and spider webs as well as decorated with bits of moss and lichen – great camouflage. The nest was in plain sight (if you could recognise it) next to the the path in a low prickly bush.

Eastern Yellow Robin nest, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

Eastern Yellow Robin nest, Greens Bush, Mornington Penninsula National Park, Vic

Murder mystery at Moorooduc

Its not everyday that you stumble onto a fight to the death between birds. I have seen many squabbles between ducks, coots and honeyeaters and of course one sided battles between birds of prey and their victims. But I have not seen a fight to the death between small beautiful songbirds.

I often hear Spotted Pardalotes in the various forests that I explore.  I even get the occasional visitor in my inner city suburb. They have a distinctive call and I more often record them in my logs as heard rather than seen. During spring when they are building their nesting burrows and attending eggs and chicks they become much more visible at the lower levels of the forest. I have a good spot at Moorooduc Quarry  where I can find, observe and photograph the Pardalotes. On a recent visit I walked along my regular burrow track and found a two male pardalotes fighting on the ground. I couldn’t tell which one was the intruder or the burrow owner. The fight resulted in the death of one of them and the other continued to attack until I removed the pardalote when the victor had flown to a nearby branch. I wanted to check the dead bird for the injuries. There was no blood or obvious wounds except both eyes were missing. Once I removed the dead male pardalote and stood back I waited to see whether the other would return – I was still trying to figure who owned the burrow. Probably 5 min later the male returned to the area with a female closely behind. They moved around the area and finally the female ducked into the burrow. My guess is that the victor was the intruder and he brought his mate to inspect this prime position. I had no idea that this beautiful tiny bird had such ferocious fights to the death.

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

II

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Spotted Pardalote battle

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

IV

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

V

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

VI

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

VII

Spotted Pardalote, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

The victor looking at me like I was next on his hit list…

Pardalote nest, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Pardalote nest burrow

Pardalote nest track, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Pardalote nest track, Moorooduc Quarry Reserve, Mt Eliza, Vic

I got a lizard for lunch…

When visiting Ma and Pa Kettle at the family estate in Moorooduc,  I often stop by Moorooduc Quarry to check out a few of my favourite locals. At the moment the Eastern Yellow Robins, the Spotted Pardalotes and the Peregrine Falcons are nesting. On the way to the Pardalote spot where I like to watch the to’ing and fro’ing of the pair I found this Kookaburra softening up his lunch by giving it a few whacks on the branch. He was not concerned by me walking by and stopping to take a few shots. He just watched me for a bit and then continued to soften lunch.

Kookaburra, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Kookaburra, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

Kookaburra, Moorooduc Quarry, Mt Eliza, Vic

II

Flying visit along the coast

Over spring I have been working on a garden down the Mornington Peninsula, trying to rediscover and restore the original veggie and garden beds. On the way home I popped into a few new spots along the way –  Highfield in the National Park and the McClelland Sculpture Park in Langwarrin. The Superb Fairy-wren was displaying its near eclipse plumage (last of its breeding/summer plumage). As I parked my car at the Sculpture Garden, I heard a weird bird call that I did not recognise (of course I assumed I had discovered a new species or at least a lifer) and it turned out to be a begging young Butcherbird. I watched as a parent returned a few times with little morsels for the hungry beggar. Notice the deadly little bill hook that the Butcherbird will use as part of its bird hunting weaponry.

Superb Fairy-wren, Green's Bush (southern), Vict

Superb Fairy-wren, Mornington Peninsula National Park: Highfield, Vic

Juvenile Grey Butcherbird, McClelland Sculpture Park, Langwarrin, Vic

Juvenile Grey Butcherbird, McClelland Sculpture Park, Langwarrin, Vic

What ya doing Dad?

With the weather turning milder this week I thought a walk at the local Fitzroy Gardens might make a nice change to lurking in the Chinatown laneways looking for new street art. I did not expect much other than a nice walk and a short bird list. I did find the usual urban park birds and a few surprises, a kookaburra being an unexpected highlight and a pair of Pied Currawongs – adult and juvenile. Being around lunch time the adult Currawong was cleaning and preening itself along the small rainforest creek that runs down the centre of the park. I spent some time filming the Currawongs with my iPhone. The Currawong was using chunks of dirt and getting deep into its feathers for a good clean. It then would hop over to the creek and have a deep vigorous wash. After a drying preen on a nearby branch it would start again on a different area of its feathers. Meanwhile the young Currawong was making small calls and watching intensely trying to figure it all out. When the adult flew off it stayed and had a go at picking in the dirt but it seemed to think it was looking for food rather than good chunks to use for cleaning. I have seen birds washing, preening, sand bathing before but never selecting chunk of dirt to use as a scrub in those hard to reach places….

click image to watch video clip

Every nook and cranny

While walking around my usual Green’s Bush circuit I noticed many Crimson Rosellas exploring every tree hollow on the older growth Eucalypts. A few went right inside the various cavities after a cursory glance, and several flew off quickly when an occupant was discovered (most likely a brush tailed possum or sugar glider). I found a pair really giving this hollow a thorough inspection. One did all the inspecting while the other stood guard on a nearby branch – he spent the time watching me on the trail and shaking his tail feathers now and again and quietly squawking. I assumed the other took this as a signal to be alert but not alarmed.

Crimson Rosella, Green's Bush, Vict

Crimson Rosella guarding his mate while she explored a potential nest hollow, Green’s Bush, Vict

 

Crimson Rosella, Green's Bush, Vict

Crimson Rosella inspecting the hollow 

Potential nest hole, Green's Bush, Vict

Potential nest hole – looking well used but too small for a possum.

Crimson Rosella, Green's Bush, Vict

I found another Crimson Rosella looking for something in a dead tree. it was very focused and just ignored me as I walked under it. , Green’s Bush, Vict

A Crowded Corner of Greens’ Bush

After  a few weeks away from Green’s Bush I went back to see how the site of the 3 nests was going. The Golden Whistler nest had not developed but the Pardalote burrow was still fresh and active while the Striated Thornbill nest was being maintained and looked in good shape. I stood and watched the Pardalotes coming and going and noticed that there were two Eastern Yellow Robins hunting in the same area. I saw a Robin fly to a nearby branch and pick up an insect from its mate, wolf it down and then fly into a small Pittosporum  bush nearby. The binocs showed the adult sitting in a fresh nest beautifully camouflaged with living lichen. When the sitter flew off for another feed, I snuck through some tall bracken and found a clear angle to get a few shots.

Eastern Yellow Robin nest, Green's Bush, Vict

Eastern Yellow Robin nest, Green’s Bush, Victoria

Eastern Yellow Robin, Green's Bush, Vict

Eastern Yellow Robin

Eastern Yellow Robin, Green's Bush, Vict

Eastern Yellow Robin II