Showing posts with label Nesting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nesting. Show all posts

14 January 2023

93: Babes in the Jacaranda

One of two fledgling Willy Wagtails that left the nest around Christmas Day. Two babes jumped along the branches of my favorite tree, a massive Jacaranda next to the house.

The 20-year-old tree is high and wide and shady. Whenever I feel sad I look up through the lacy leaves or stomp all over the carpet of purple tubes decorating the grass. 


Two vigilant Willie Wagtail parents chose a tree protected by a hundred branches. A network of delicate green leaves and flower tubes shaded the nest so the eggs didn't cook in a harsh Australian summer. The filtered light meant eagles and raptors couldn't spot it from above. Eggs are a monitor's favorite food; they climb trees as easily as we walk. With 2-metre-long adult lizards, a 12 cm bird or 5cm long chick doesn't stand a chance.

These fantails have done a super job of bringing 2 nestlings to the fledging stage. You can never underestimate the awesome strength of a mated pair. They would pretend to be hurt to drag my eyes away or fly over my head so close I could hear their wings, attacking like a squadron of fighter jets.

Wagtails go to supreme lengths to protect their young. This included dive-bombing every other bird within a 10-metre radius. Even if the bird is a resident peacock 200 times its size, or a human, like me.

Three months ago, I cleaned my hairbrush outside and saw a Wagtail picking up the strands, carrying them off to a nest. 

Two weeks later I woke in the night to the haunting sound of a Wagtail lullaby. A male parent sings to his eggs so they know the distinctive voice of their daddy after hatching. Then they will either come to him or freeze in place in response to his scritching, tch-tch-tch warnings.

I couldn't tell where the nest was until mid-December. Dragging the hose past the jacaranda on a watering jag, I stopped to look at the sunlight through the canopy. I was divebombed, looked up, and spotted a tiny bowl, neat and lopsided, made with my hair.

The little ones squawked for food for the next fortnight, while the parents worked in tandem to sit or bring them insects constantly. It was a while before I saw feathers above the rim. 

The Jacaranda was looking glorious after a year after almost a metre of rainfall, complete with intermittent floods in 2022. I liked to sit underneath in its shade, but it was too stressful on the helicopter parent Wagtails.

Eventually, there was a smudge of grey down above the lip of the nest. The babes were bigger.

And, of course, there was always the angry bird patrolling or jumping on the twins whenever I peeked beneath the Jac tree.

Mum and Dad WW created a no-go zone near the tree. Once, when I went out with the camera one wagtail flew in my face.

Parent Wagtails were kept busy from 5 am to 8 pm.

The food needs of the little ones was never-ending, but they grew.

And grew.

Until both could barely fit into the nest.

Despite all the stress, they thrived. Though, as with most birds, one got the lion's share of the food and was twice as big as the sibling and sat on top.

It was Christmas Eve when I ventured one last look underneath the Jacaranda to see how the chicks were doing. They were out of the nest, sitting high and pretty along the branches. They were frozen, probably petrified. The wind was blowing hard and I couldn't risk another photo. It might make the fledglings fall to their deaths. 

But, I have seen them a lot in the new year. At the birdbath, or scaring up insects. The parents still admonish me when I'm watering. Both chicks have lost their down and now have shiny black feather coats with snow-white underbellies. Oh, and small, white eyebrows that are already well-practiced at scowling. 

I'm privileged to have had this special nature gift at Christmas.

31 December 2020

89. Wild Willies

We have a high walled courtyard off the main bathroom. 

When my children were preschoolers, they planted a branch of cypress there.

Surprisingly, a pine tree grew. It must have come up from a seed on the stick. 

The kids thought themselves master gardeners, especially when a pair of Willie Wagtails built a nest in that pine. 

08 October 2020

82. Feathering the Nest

In spring
birds fly two by two
dancing on branches
bobbing and bowing
nest building
finding feathers
for beds
for eggs
to nestle nestlings
the babes to be
and chicks

12 April 2020

67. Happy Easter Chicks

In a house on a hill on a farm, there’s a garage. In that garage, there’s a nest in a toolbox.

14 September 2019

14 May 2019


Just before we went on holidays to the coast, my husband asked me to take our kids for a long walk.