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…

Shake your tail feathers*

I have been doing a spot of quiet, unobtrusive bird-watching.

Mr and Mrs Willie Wagtail have set up house in my front yard.

Can you see her?

Mr Willie Wagtail is very active just now, hunting insects busily to keep Mrs Wilhelmina Wagtail fed as she sits on the teeny little nest they’ve built low down in the young frangipani tree in the front yard. It’s 5 ft from the road, 5 ft off the ground and right next to our driveway, so I’m not exaggerating when I say they’re incredibly tame. If you’re Australian, you’ve certainly seen these busy little creatures hopping and wagging, hopping and wagging as they search for insects on the ground. In the air, it’s another story. They become incredible aerialists, swooping and diving, feathering back to dead stops and cutting a swathe through the insect population.

They have a pretty melodious song, often sung at night in the breeding season, making it easy to identify in the general silence. And I’m willing to bet that tiny little nest (about 2½ inches across) is lined with silky black hair from a certain Mouse of my acquaintance. Mrs Wagtail is riding steadily as the branches wave in the slight hot breeze (it’s currently 32°C/90°F). I reckon she’s already laid her three eggs and is sitting on them till they hatch.

Maybe we’ll have some feathered babies for Christmas, too…

*One of my favourite Blues Brothers songs