One of our resident magpies gave us a good laugh yesterday. It was cold and wintry – despite it being in the middle of spring according to the calendar. The wind was bitterly cold and the rain was pelting down. Said magpie was spied sheltering underneath our car in the driveway. I guess any car in a storm is good. It was too far and dark to get a photo – so here’s one I prepared when the sun was shining.
At this time of the year people throughout much of Australia are aware that the Australian Magpie is nesting. Some of our magpies are known to get very protective of the nest and the young. Getting swooped by a magpie seems to be a normal way of life in springtime Australia. For most people it can also be an unnerving experience at best and downright terrifying at worst. A magpie swooping at speed, often catching the unsuspecting victim from behind, can inflict a nasty cut. Those of us living in magpie territories learn to accept this as a part of spring and learn to even expect it.
What you don’t always expect is a magpie – possibly a juvenile just out of the nest – sitting in the middle of the road in a suburban street.
Especially at 11pm on a wet night.
On Friday night I almost ran over such a bird. Luckily it had learned enough road sense to flap out of the way in time. The reality is sadly much worse than this. While that particular bird got out of harm’s way, many thousands of young magpies do not. Road kill of young magpies – and many other species too – account for a very high mortality rate. In fact, from memory, I think more than half of young magpies who manage to leave the nest die as road kill within the first twelve months. Sad, but true.
Caring for injured and orphaned birds – click on this link to read how you can look after injured or orphaned birds you find.
Over recent weeks I’ve been keeping an eye on a Willie Wagtails‘ nest in our garden. The birds were very industrious for a few days while they built their beautiful nest which consists mainly of spiders’ webs. I’ve shown the nest in the photo below.
I’ve been very busy lately and a few days ago I saw that the little ones had hatched and were sitting in the nest being fed by the adults. I made a note to myself to get the camera out and get a shot of them in the nest.
They beat me to it. Yesterday I noticed them flying around and not settling or posing for a photo. So I had to use a photo I took last year – or was that the year before – see the photo above.
You can’t win them all.
They are also a resident breeding species in our garden here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. Quite often they go about their nesting quite unobtrusively and we never get to see their nests. The latest attempt, however, was several metres from our sun room where we often have our meals. We watched the progress of the nest over several days as the pair flew to the ground, selected suitable sticks and twigs and then flew back to the melaleuca bush.
I was rather cautious approaching the bush for the photo above because doves and pigeons can be very nervous on the nest, often flying off rapidly when approached and either damaging the nest or eggs, or abandoning it entirely.
Since taking this photo a few weeks ago the young have left the nest. Click on the photo to enlarge the image.
Red Wattlebirds, a member of the honeyeater family of birds in Australia, is a common bird in our garden in Murray Bridge, South Australia. In fact, this species is a resident breeding bird in our garden. At any one time we probably have 5 – 10 individuals present, possibly more.
In recent weeks they have been a little more aggressive towards other species than normal, and that’s saying something! They can be very bossy at the best of times, especially to smaller birds like pardalotes.
A few days ago I discovered what I had suspected; they have been nesting. While their nest is not all that small, we do have many hundreds of trees and shrubs so it is hard to keep up with what is actually nesting.
I found them feeding two juvenile birds quite close to the house. If you click on the photo you will enlarge the image and be able to see the downy feathers of the young.