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.
I was quietly having my breakfast this morning when a Red Wattlebird flew into the bush near our sun room. It proceeded to pull off a small twig from a Melaleuca bush. It then flew off rapidly to a Eucalyptus tree next to the driveway. Less than a minute later it was back again, swinging on a small twig until it was dislodged, then off to the tree again. It repeated the action every minute or so.
After finishing my breakfast – and ignoring the newspaper – I wandered out to the driveway to have a look. Sure enough, a half constructed nest was located high in the thick foliage. I actually had to follow the bird’s flight to locate the nest. It’s well hidden from prying eyes. While I watched the another Red Wattlebird flew in from a different part of the garden and added to the nest.
I’ll have to keep an eye on this nest over the coming few weeks to watch for evidence of chicks.
It is spring here in South Australia and many birds are busy nesting of feeding young.
I regularly get comments and questions from readers of this blog. It is one of the delights of having a blog. Today I received a question via my email contact form. I must admit I’ve never witnessed this strangely compelling activity on the part of Red Wattlebirds. Can any readers help?
I stumbled on your page while doing a search on what we call Synchronised Red Wattle Birds. For the past few years we have noticed an interesting behaviour of 2 red wattle birds in our back yard (Coromandel Valley, South Australia). They fly in unison from the back fence and land at the same time on the railing of our balcony. Then they squawk at each other turn around and fly off at exactly the same time and land again on the back fence at exactly the same time. They can repeat this for up to 1/2 an hour at a time.
If one accidentally takes off before the other, it quickly returns, squawks and then they leave together. Have you seen this behaviour before and do you have any idea what it is all about? We thought maybe flight training for young but perhaps they are practicing for a synchronised flying competition.
It is great fun to watch and they look like they are having a super time.
This sounds like they are having great fun. Could it be just play? Is it sexual behaviour? I’ve done a search of my reference books and there is no mention of this behaviour. Over to my readers – use the contact form or the comments section below.
On our holiday in January earlier this year we travelled down along the south coast of New South Wales. On the second day we travelled from Bateman’s Bay to Mallacoota, stopping at a few places along the way. I was keen to find a few good birding spots and also look at potential good places to stay on future trips along that coast. This time we had our daughter with us and so we were on a limited time line. She had to get back home to start work.
One of the places we visited in the early 1980s which I wanted to revisit was the Mimosa Rocks National Park. It’s funny how you sometimes get an idealised concept of a place and want to return there after many years, only to find that it wasn’t like you remembered. That was the case here. Perhaps we went to a different part of the park that first time. The memory can play tricks at times.
Anyway, we found a nice picnic spot for lunch and I was able to do a little birding during and after lunch.
It was quite warm in the picnic ground as we were surrounded by reasonably dense trees and bushes. Only a few steps away one emerged at the beach and a lovely cooling breeze. It’s amazing how much difference a few steps can make.
A few people were swimming or sitting on the beach. Also using the beach were three Pied Oystercatchers, shown in the photo above. It had been some time since my last sighting of this species, so it was a good addition to my list. A few cormorants flew past as I scanned the beach and the water. I recorded both Great and Little Pied Cormorants.
In the picnic ground I watched a small flock of Striated Thornbills busily feeding in the bushes and trees. They wouldn’t come close enough or sit still enough for a photo. I also observed a Little Wattlebird coming into the picnic ground every few minutes, catching an insect, and then head off into the forest nearby, always going in the same direction. It looked very much like it was feeding young in a nest.
On the drive in and again on the way out we wound down the windows to hear the beautiful tinkling calls of the Bell Miners, another good species I don’t get to see or hear very often.