Dusky Moorhen and chick, Adelaide Zoo

Dusky Moorhen

One of our common water birds here in Australia is the Dusky Moorhen, shown in the photos on this post. This species is found throughout eastern and southern Australia, as well as south western Australia. The birds shown in these photos were swimming in one of the ponds in Adelaide Zoo. They were not captive birds but free flying birds who found that the environment within the zoo boundaries to be quite suitable for living – and breeding.

I was quite pleased with the photo above as it shows the interplay of light and shadows on the water, the ripples accentuating the effects of the light.

Dusky Moorhen and chick

What is a baby pelican called?

Australian Pelicans, Mallacoota, Victoria

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking about Australian Birds, and showing some of my bird photos, at our local Mobilong Ladies Probus Club. There were just over 100 attentive women at the meeting, they all appeared to enjoy my presentation and they even laughed at my jokes!

One of them asked me a very difficult question, one I couldn’t answer: What is a baby pelican called?

Many birds and animals have specific names for their young, eg cygnets for swans, cubs for bears and kittens for cats. It seems however that no-one has got around to giving a special name to baby pelicans. So be it.

An extensive search online has revealed that one person calls them “toddlers”, an entirely appropriate name reflecting their waddling gait when quite young. This could also be just a tongue-in-cheek suggestion, and the site where it appeared is not at all authoritative in any way.

So I guess we’ll just have to make do with “chicks” or “nestlings” like the vast majority of birds.

Happy birding.

Watch out, Magpie

Australian Magpie (juvenile)

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.

Further reading:

Caring for injured and orphaned birds – click on this link to read how you can look after injured or orphaned birds you find.

Australian Magpie (juvenile)

Willie Wagtails fly the nest

Baby Willie Wagtails just out of their nest

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.

Happy birding.

Willie Wagtails' nest in our garden

Willie Wagtail sitting on a nest in our garden

Juvenile Australian Magpie

Juvenile Australian Magpie, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Juvenile Australian Magpie, Victor Harbor, South Australia

We recently had a weekend in Victor Harbor on the south coast of South Australia. We stayed in our caravan with a group of friends in their caravans. While sitting around talking at one stage a juvenile Australian Magpie came hopping around our feet, begging for food from the adultsĀ  nearby. They were looking for any scraps of food that may have fallen from our picnic tables.

A little later this young bird flew in and landed on the annex of our friend’s caravan about 3 metres from where I was sitting. If you look closely at the photo above you can just see the corner of the annex. The bird looked at me, noticed that a camera didn’t look very tasty, and flew off.

Juvenile Australian Magpie, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Juvenile Australian Magpie, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Juvenile Australian Magpie, Victor Harbor, South Australia

Juvenile Australian Magpie, Victor Harbor, South Australia