A Battlefield in the Garden

While out in the garden today I was suddenly aware of a noisy scuffle nearby. They were at it again. The interloper New Holland Honeyeater trying to snatch insects from the resident Willie Wagtail’s favourite patch. This time they actually came to blows!

After a few seconds of screaming at each other, many ruffled feathers and a clash of claws they both retreated to nearby trees. After that there was an uneasy peace. The battle may be over but I feel that the war has just begun.

For details of the previous battle click here.

Willie Wagtail

Aggressive Bird Behaviour in the Garden

Willie Wagtail

Willie Wagtail

While working in the garden yesterday morning I was suddenly alerted to a noisy confrontation nearby. Our resident Willie Wagtails love to frequent one particular spot where there is an abundance of insects.

Suddenly a New Holland Honeyeater dived in to reap his share of the smorgasbord. The Willie Wagtail became quite aggressive, fanning his tail up high, ruffling the feathers all over and calling in what seemed to me to be in quite an angry – perhaps even distressed – way.

The honeyeater retreated to a nearby tree, only to swoop in repeatedly over the next few minutes. Each time the honeyeater would snap at the Willie Wagtail, zip away a metre or so, grab another insect, and retreat hurriedly to the refuge tree.

These attacks seemed to trigger even more aggression in the Willie Wagtail who decided to front up to the interloper. They then faced each other at about ten paces (bird step size – about 10cm) angrily calling in each others’ face. One last beakful of food and the New Holland Honeyeater decided that other parts of the garden were more attractive anyway, and it flew off. The Willie Wagtail continued to feast contentedly on his little patch.

Further reading:

This post updated in September 2015.


New Holland Honeyeater

New Holland Honeyeater

Willie Wagtail accident

One of the common bird species around home here in Murray Bridge is the Willie Wagtail. This is a widespread species throughout Australia and is familiar to most people, even those with little interest in birds. We have a resident breeding pair in our garden.

From time to time one of them comes to visit our bird bath. This morning I saw the water splashing in all directions so I raced into the office to grab my digital camera. This is one species that has eluded my camera thus far.

I managed to take about eight photos before disaster struck. The Willie Wagtail upset the bird bath, knocking it and the contents to the ground. I was surprised because I had thought that even bigger birds would not be able to tip it over. It’s perched on the cut down trunk of an old dead mallee tree and has a brick inside it.

The Willie Wagtail nonchalantly flew to a nearby branch, gave his feathers a shake, preened for a few seconds and then flew off.

Perhaps I need a bigger brick.

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Willie Wagtail

Willie Wagtail