Over the last few weeks the Rainbow Bee-eaters have be flying around our garden and mallee scrub. During the winter months they head north to warmer parts of the country, and every spring they head south for spring and summer.
It is always a delight when we hear them arrive. It’s a sure sign that spring has arrived. Almost every day for the last few weeks we’ve heard them around, or seen them overhead. Perhaps this year they will nest on our property like they did some years ago?
I find their nesting habit to be quite unusual. They make a short 30 – 40cm tunnel in a sandy spot and then construct a small nesting hollow at the end of the tunnel where they lay the eggs. Sometimes the burrow into the side of a road cutting, or the bank of a creek or river, providing the dirt is not too hard or compacted. I remember being fascinated by these birds as a child growing up on a farm in the Murray Mallee region of South Australia. That fascination has remained to this day.
I heard my first cuckoo for the season today. Officially it is the first day of spring here in Australia, so that’s quite appropriate.
This cuckoo was some distance away and I didn’t get to see it. Going on the call alone, it was probably a Fan-tailed Cuckoo, a relatively common species in the Murray Bridge area at this time of the year.
Many other species seem to be quite busy and calling frequently but I’m not sure what is nesting yet. I must take out a little time over the next week or so and wander around having a look in all the trees and bushes around our house. Some of the resident breeding species are very sneaky about where they locate their nests.
Getting back to that cuckoo – I don’t yet have a photo of this species. Instead, I can show you another common local species of cuckoo, the Pallid Cuckoo. (The photo was taken at Round Hill Nature Reserve in NSW.)