Worth three in the bush

Do you know the proverb?

‘A bird in the hand is worth three in the bush’. In this case, I’m changing it to ‘A bird on the nest gains three in the bush’. Yes, you read that right. Mr and Mrs W. Wagtail joyfully announce the arrival of three little Wagtails, Li’l Willie, Wally and Willow. I have no way of knowing if I have chosen appropriate names, because at the moment, they’re just three tiny gaping beaks appearing over the edge of the nest when Mrs Wagtail takes a break to go hunting or find a drink. Mr Wagtail is kept incredibly busy decimating the local insect population.

If you look carefully at the photo, you’ll see a tiny black point appearing from Mrs Wagtail’s silhouette, just below her head. That’s a baby wagtail beak. She’s very, very protective, and I haven’t yet been able to get close enough to take a photo of them alone, without her. Soon enough, they’ll grow larger and will be much more visible.

I think the Husband will have to put off mowing around that particular tree, or he’ll disturb them badly. The branches are low, and he is tall, so it’ll just have to wait.

I’m sure he’ll be devastated about that…

Mrs Sunbird sits tight

There’s a little curved beak poking out of the door of Casa Sunbird.

Mrs Sunbird is sitting on her nest. If she’s finished laying, there will be two little greyish eggs in there, kept snug against her yellow tummy. It takes about 2 weeks from when she starts to sit till they hatch, but typically, not every egg laid hatches, so we shall wait and see.

mrs-sunbird-at-workAs you can see if you click and zoom on the image, the nest is right next to the door, and she’s not tame enough to sit whilst people go in and out, so we and our visitors are using the back door or going in through the garage.

One day soon, there’ll be a couple of gaping beaks in there, and the noise quotient will escalate noticeably!

Hanging out stockings for Santa

…Or maybe not!

sunbird-nestDespite its vague resemblance to a rather weary old stocking, this is no sock. It’s the nest of the Olive Backed Sunbird, a.k.a. the Yellow Bellied or Yellow Breasted Sunbird, a little beauty which perches or hovers to drink nectar from the wide range of flowers which are in bloom at this time of year.

The bird is very small, perhaps only 10cm (4 inches) from the tip of the curved bill to the tip of the tail, and this nest is a good 40cm (16 inches) long. It has appeared over the course of three days, so the Mrs, who is the builder of the family, has been a busy girl. The opening is that dark patch at the top, and the interior of the nest is lined with feathers and fluff. It’s actually quite an airy, open structure, which she weaves together on the foundation of a couple of long strands of grass hung from the suspension point. In this case, it’s dangling from a string of fairy lights just 15cm (6 inches) from the screen door onto my side porch, which means that I’m trying to deflect visitors round to the back of the house instead.

They have cleverly built their home directly opposite a convenient Sunbird snack-bar in the form of my double yellow Hibiscus bush, round the corner there are a couple of Murrayas in bloom, the Flame Tree is showing off its red Christmas bells not far away, and of course the Poinciana is in riotous colour. Their normal habit is to build the nest, go off on honeymoon for a few days, and then come back and lay the eggs. Currently, they’re honeymooning somewhere, but I expect them back any day now, the squeaky little darlings. They sound a little like twittering canaries, a nice change from the other, noisier bird visitors to this back yard.

Let’s hope Santa doesn’t try to stuff anything in this stocking in two days’ time!

A happy event

Mr & Mrs Bush Stone-Curlew wish to announce the hatching of Baby Bush Stone-Curlew.

A couple of days ago, we were distressed to see that Mrs Stone-Curlew had abandoned her nest, and there was a lone egg left in it. Despite my grumping about the unholy racket the Stone-Curlew family made at night, I’ve been eagerly following progress, and was sad to think she’d been driven off the nest by a predator after her eggs.

No such thing. One egg has indeed failed to hatch, but the other has resulted in a fluffy chick which is extremely well guarded by its cautious and now very shy parents. They have retreated to the far end of the back yard and become agitated at any sign we might be looking at them. Thankfully, this has also resulted in an abatement of volume in their night time cries…

Bush Stone-Curlew eggI’m not going to bother them by attempting a photo of young Master or Miss Stone-Curlew, but I’m sure Mrs Stone-Curlew will not object to my photographing her remaining unviable egg, which is quite beautiful, as well as being, well, painfully large for the size of the unfortunate bird that laid it, being 4cm or 1.75in long.

There’s only one downside to the happy event. Now there will be three of them screaming at night…