14 September 2019

45. Spring

From September to the end of November is the Australian spring.

Spring is the best and worst time for birds, depending how you look at it. Most birds are busy, eager to pair-bond and over-excited to mate. Sexual distraction means many are so preoccupied they crash into windows. Luckily most bounce off, shake themselves and fly away.
Making nests, repairing nests, weaving nests, raiding nests, feathering, cleaning out and defending the nest needs meticulous patience and care. 

Parent birds who rely on each other for incubation or to provide food for the babes create a strong bond that can last a lifetime.
 Firetail finally makes a selection for its nest above.
Diamond Firetail Finch considering a feather for its nest.

We only have a little bit of blossom in the garden, but the birds and bees flap about it in this crazy mating season. This is one puny bit of blossom on my favourite apricot tree; I hope it bears fruit.


I went to a wedding an hour away last weekend. I glimpsed a wild koala in a gum just off the roadside. From the passenger seat I also saw 28 different Australian Raven nests. Two had a bird stand guard and another was incubating eggs on a scruffy nest like this one.

In spring the birds leave their flocks or family groupings and go 2 by 2.
A bonded pair of King Parrots.
A Galah couple, female has a pale red eye, the male has brown eyes.
Red-rumped Parrots: the male is brighter but they both blend into the grass where they graze.
Two of my favourite Dusky Woodswallows with fluffy feathers and blue beaks.
Double-barred Finches dwarfed by the bird bath.
Rainbow Lorikeets - a pair of multi-coloured rascals.
Wooing, dancing, prancing, acrobatics and gymnastic mating displays are everywhere. 
Presenting grass blades or food, bowing, scraping or whirring like a helicopter is good to see.  This Magpie pair gurgled and yodelled to each other in an original song while stopping now and then to take a drink.
Birds puff themselves up in spring because sometimes size does matter.
Male Peaceful Doves inflate themselves into feather balls. For 6 hours a day they woo the ladies with their incessant coo, which becomes a call and response over time. Pair bonding isn't rushed, they get to know and follow one another first.
After the birds get it on, there are long hours spent sitting on eggs or guarding nests, then endless rotations of feeding chicks that are constantly hungry.  

Here a fledged Dusky as big as the parent bird still begs for food.
Willie Wagtail parent on guard duty near the nest. See the dirty look? It will quickly attack bird, beast or human birder with a camera. I was only allowed one shot of it before being told off and having it fly at my face. (I felt the wing beats.)
The birds flit faster and bathe more in spring. I get dive bombed and told off from Welcome Swallows who have decided our eaves are the perfect spot to breed. Any predator who dares to come within 50 m of their nest is scolded. It’s hilarious to see Magpies, Currawongs and Eagles being escorted off the property by a pair of fearsome bombardiers.
Two Swallow parents sending a Wedge-tailed Eagle packing at 7am this morning.
The breeding pairs think nothing of harassing a bird 100 times bigger. Nesting birds defend their territory with determination.
In my ivy covered tree there are three different Diamond Firetail Finch nests. Two are double storey, with one nest smack bang on top of the other.

In the China Doll shrub 4 metres from the house I counted 5 nests, including a couple of old ones from previous years.

A sturdy hanging basket nest still intact from 2018.

Large flask shaped nest of Diamond Firetail Finches.

When I see nests or glimpse the fledglings early test flights, I remember David Attenborough’s words:

‘All organisms are ultimately concerned to pass on their genes to the next generation…That…is the prime objective of their existence.’
Resting on a peg, a Welcome Swallow recovers on the clothes line after its first flight. Its chest was pumping.
This baby is still more down than feathers. It had its beak open for about 20 minutes. Leaving the nest initially is the deadliest time for these Swallow babes; the energy required for flight exhausts them, leaving them vulnerable.

A tiny Double-barred Finch fledgling; its markings are pale and the baby chirps are squeaks.
Below is the first small butterfly I saw lapping nectar from my lavender garden this spring.

Breeding is a biological imperative and the birds go all out to make chicks in springtime. I am so glad they do.
A newly fledged Diamond Firetail chick, without the distinct diamond shaped dots or bright red tail.


  1. Hi Therese!
    Loved your account and photos of the breeding birds there in your part of the world! 😊 Fascinating learning about different birds to the ones I see here in the UK. Keep up the good work my friend.

    1. Thank you for commenting Carl, I love seeing your Puffin pictures and all the Northern Hemisphere birds you photograph too. Someone else's feathered beauties always seem brighter. Thanks again.

  2. Wonderful Therese, as always.

    1. Thank you DDS as always, for commenting on my blogs-I love it.

  3. Theresa you've opened a whole new world of birds for me. Being in America I love "exploring" via internet other continents and regions to see the diversity of birds and plants and trees. I was drawn to the Double-barred Finch. Thanks for the link!!

    1. Thanks so much 'unknown' for your wonderful comment. Please give me a name- first, middle or last I can call you. After breeding continually since June I am now lucky enough to have a huge family group of Double-barred Finches. There is probably 50 0r 60 of them in my garden, made up of adults and juveniles. Their cheeping is the cutest sound. Whenever I come close to their native hop bush, they fly up and out all together, making a little flock. At 9 -10 cm, they are weeny. I'll have to do another post about them for you, (especially if you can reveal who you are.)