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.
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.|
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.|
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.
|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.’