Today I was the guest speaker at the Mallee Aged Care, a group which meets in the local soccer club rooms every fortnight. The organiser invited me – and my wife – for lunch and after that I gave a one hour presentation, talking about Australian birds. I illustrated my talk with photos of our lovely birds. Most of the photos have been shown here on my blog over recent years.
While many in the group were hard of hearing, all said they could hear me clearly – it must be the remnants of my teacher voice at work.
All said they enjoyed the talk very much and learned so much about our birds. One lady even started taking notes on a paper napkin!
I’ve done similar talks to various group before, and the requests are becoming more frequent as word gets out. It’s something I enjoy and I not only love sharing about Australian birds, as a former teacher I love imparting knowledge about them with any who will listen. Friends and family know this and often ring or ask about something they’ve seen birds doing.
An offer too good to refuse:
I am prepared to go anywhere to talk about Australian birds. If it’s interstate just provide the air fare and I’ll be there. What the heck – I’ll even fly overseas to talk about Australian birds.
Pacific Black Ducks breeding
It is with some embarrassment that I post this article. For several reasons.
The first is that during the cooler months of the year we have two and sometimes three Pacific Black Ducks visit our garden, specifically to take a dip in our swimming pool – or should I call that Le Swamp? (I’m not very good at maintaining it.) On several occasions we have had to rescue about a dozen little ducklings that have followed their mother into the pool, only to find that they cannot get out again and head off down to the river a few kilometres away. We love seeing the ducks up so close, but I do feel embarrassed about the state of the “pool”.
Late last week I was sitting on the back veranda enjoying the lovely spring sunshine and reading a good book. It could have even been The Good Book. The ducks flew in and skidded on the surface of the pool water before settling down for a spot of sun as well.
After about ten minutes they both entered the water and began excitedly circling each other, constantly dipping their beaks into the water. Now comes embarrassing admission #2. I actually witnessed them in a moment of passionate embrace! The male mounted the female, grabbing her neck feathers in his beak and holding her head just out of the water. Her body was totally submerged.
This wonderful moment was followed by ten minutes of excited flapping, splashing, ducking under the water and general preening as the couple celebrated their union.
I wonder if we’ll have a raft of ducklings in the pool in a few weeks time?
Nest boxes for wildlife: a practical guide
On the weekend I bought another book to add to my already vast collection. (Can one ever have too many books?) This one is a very practical book; it says so on the cover!
- Nest boxes for wildlife: a practical guide by Alan and Stacey Franks (2006, Bloomings Books, Melbourne)
We already have quite a few species of wildlife nesting in hollows on our property. At times however, the competition seems to be intense. This has been worsened in a the last few years by the large numbers of the introduced European Starling taking over many of the suitable hollows. They have forced some of our native species to look elsewhere. Over the next few years I intend giving some of our native birds and animals a helping hand by providing some nesting boxes. We have enough suitable trees for several dozen such nest boxes.
This new book of mine has plans included for some of the more commonly constructed nesting boxes. These plans include many different birds as well as boxes suitable for possums, gliders and bats. Of course I could have gone ahead and bought some boxes, but I enjoy making things with timber so I’ll have a go at them myself. It’s a bit late to be putting up these boxes this year because the breeding season is in full swing. I plan to have some ready for next spring.
I’ll keep you posted.
Special Note: this book deals only with Australian fauna. For suitable nesting boxes for your country, please look for publications dealing with you local fauna.
Red Wattlebirds nesting
I was quietly having my breakfast this morning when a Red Wattlebird flew into the bush near our sun room. It proceeded to pull off a small twig from a Melaleuca bush. It then flew off rapidly to a Eucalyptus tree next to the driveway. Less than a minute later it was back again, swinging on a small twig until it was dislodged, then off to the tree again. It repeated the action every minute or so.
After finishing my breakfast – and ignoring the newspaper – I wandered out to the driveway to have a look. Sure enough, a half constructed nest was located high in the thick foliage. I actually had to follow the bird’s flight to locate the nest. It’s well hidden from prying eyes. While I watched the another Red Wattlebird flew in from a different part of the garden and added to the nest.
I’ll have to keep an eye on this nest over the coming few weeks to watch for evidence of chicks.
It is spring here in South Australia and many birds are busy nesting of feeding young.
Synchronised flying by wattlebirds
I regularly get comments and questions from readers of this blog. It is one of the delights of having a blog. Today I received a question via my email contact form. I must admit I’ve never witnessed this strangely compelling activity on the part of Red Wattlebirds. Can any readers help?
I stumbled on your page while doing a search on what we call Synchronised Red Wattle Birds. For the past few years we have noticed an interesting behaviour of 2 red wattle birds in our back yard (Coromandel Valley, South Australia). They fly in unison from the back fence and land at the same time on the railing of our balcony. Then they squawk at each other turn around and fly off at exactly the same time and land again on the back fence at exactly the same time. They can repeat this for up to 1/2 an hour at a time.
If one accidentally takes off before the other, it quickly returns, squawks and then they leave together. Have you seen this behaviour before and do you have any idea what it is all about? We thought maybe flight training for young but perhaps they are practicing for a synchronised flying competition.
It is great fun to watch and they look like they are having a super time.
This sounds like they are having great fun. Could it be just play? Is it sexual behaviour? I’ve done a search of my reference books and there is no mention of this behaviour. Over to my readers – use the contact form or the comments section below.