From a human point of view, some birds are destructive. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are well known for taking to woodwork around houses in some parts of Australia. Many species enjoy eating fruit in orchards (like the Mallee Ringnecks that eat our lovely pears – before they are ripe). Galahs, Cockatoos and Corellas can destroy an almond crop and Ravens and Crows steal eggs from chook yards. Honeyeaters, Silvereyes and Lorikeets enjoy grapes and the list can go on.
My recent experience is amusing rather than annoying. Little Ravens and Australian Magpies have been ‘borrowing’ fibres from a mat on our back veranda (see photo above). This mat is for wiping our boots as we come in from the garden. As you can see in the photo, the mat has definitely seen better days and is near the end of its useful life. It’s therefore good to see that it is being reused as nesting material. We’re really into recycling and reusing in a big way so obviously the magpies have been learning from us.
By the way: if you’d like to learn more about Australian Magpies, I can recommend an excellent book called The fearsome flute players. It is both informative and entertaining; you’ll laugh out loud at some of the antics these lovely birds can get up to and are recorded in this book. To order click here – and there is a special deal for readers of Trevor’s Birding.
The Hooded Plover is found along the southern coast of Australia, from Tasmania, though Victoria, South Australia and southern Western Australia. Its preferred habitat is sandy beaches where there is plenty of seaweed and there are nearby rocky outcrops, reefs and sand dunes. In some parts it can be found at salt lakes some distance inland in SA and WA. It lays its 2 or 3 eggs in a shallow scrape in the beach sand during the months of September to January.
The Hooded Plover is an endangered species. On the Fleurieu Peninsula near where I live there are fewer than 75 left, according the warning sign near the beach at Victor Harbor (see below). On a visit to Victor Harbor some years ago I was walking along this beach watching over about 60 primary school children on an end of year school camp. Trying to keep so many little feet away from the nest with two eggs took a major effort, but the birds patrolling the beach nearby were not too disturbed. Why they chose one of the busiest beaches in South Australia to lay their eggs is a mystery to me! I hope they survived.
The bird in the photo above was not taken at the beach. It was of a bird in an aviary at Adelaide Zoo where the keepers have cleverly recreated a small sandy beach to imitate its natural habitat.
Australian Magpie Larks are a resident bird species in our garden. We see our two on a daily basis as they scratch around in the garden looking for their food. When they both call to each other is can be quite noisy, especially when they are under the back veranda, a place they think is their own.
Earlier in the year they commenced a mud nest in a tall tree next to our clothes line. They were about to lay some eggs when we had several days of heavy rain accompanied by wild winds. Their nest was destroyed by the weather. When it calmed down they set about constructing a replacement. This time they were successful in raising a brood.
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.