Murmurations of Starlings

I’m excited to share a short video I took recently of the amazing flying patterns of starlings known as murmurations.

I only happened upon it by accident one evening as I was near the end of my walk at the Tamar Island Wetlands.  It was totally unexpected, and since then, I have taken my camera with me and tried to get some video of the starlings incredible flying formation. However, it’s difficult because they don’t seem to fly like this all the time, and now as winter approaches, I can’t get there early enough.

 

Amazing isn’t it! I could watch this all day! 🙂

There has to be hundreds of starlings coming in to settle for the night at the Wetlands. It certainly sounded like it when I walked past them! I wonder what they were saying to each other?

 

The European starling (also known as the Common starling) is an introduced and invasive bird here in Australia, but even so, it is a very pretty bird when the sun shines on them exposing their metallic rainbow of colours, and they also have a beautiful song.

European starling (not my photo)

Have you ever seen a murmuration of starlings or any other bird?

 

 

 

Wildlife Visitors in March 2018

Some welcome rain in March (but maybe a little bit too much!) made for a very tropical climate for the beginning of autumn. There was plenty of wildlife around plus I also had the opportunity to capture some bird audio recordings which might be of interest to my overseas readers.

One morning, a couple of sulphur crested cockatoos dropped by to be annoying as they were screeching and carrying on as they do. This is the only one that sat still for a minute before taking off with the others and leaving us all in peace.

The eastern water dragon isn’t seen as often now, but here he is basking in the late afternoon sun.

The kookaburra family is often seen in the surrounding gum trees or perched on my veranda. The baby kookaburra is on the far right of the photo and it’s getting harder to tell the difference between them all now. (I think the one on the far left is having a bad hair day!)

I’ve seen more and more of the lovely grey butcherbirds and regularly hear their melody during the day.

Here is just a snapshot of some of its calls:

 

I am still visited by the grey butcherbird’s nemesis, the pied butcherbirds, who also have a lovely repertoire.

Pied Butcherbird

Here’s just a sample of their song:

 

And here’s a quick snippet of another of the pied butcherbird’s song, this one near the end sounds like the bit in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind when they are playing the musical notes with the alien ship. 😀

 

The pied currawong is one of my favourite birds. This is the male of the adult pair that live around my home.

Pied Currawong

I love the different calls of this bird and I managed to capture them calling just on dusk one day.

 

This is a noisy miner, a very common bird and a nuisance a lot of the time. Small and gregarious, these birds often gang up on other birds.

Noisy Miner

I got this recording when there were about 8 of these birds in a tree carrying on about something.

 

Here’s my magpie family, Maggie on the left and one of her juveniles on the right.

The carrolling of the magpie has to be one of the most recognised bird calls of Australia.

 

Hope you enjoyed seeing (and hearing) some of my backyard wildlife visitors.

This is my participation in a monthly event called Wildlife Wednesdays hosted by Tina of My Gardner Says… You can see the wildlife visitors of other participants here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildlife Visitors in November 2017

November is the last month of spring here in Australia and this post is all about birds! With the local magpies finally giving up their vicious territorial attacks on other birds, we had many old feathered friends returning.

This is an adult grey butcherbird and I have also seen one juvenile begging for food.

One of the adult grey butcherbirds
The juvenile grey butcherbird

I spotted these two kookaburras  which appear to be the same ones that previously visited. The exciting thing is they appear to be paying lots of attention to the termite mound on the tree where they had babies last year, so maybe soon we will have little kookies!

Two adult kookaburras

The pied butcherbirds have returned as well. It’s so nice to have them sit on the veranda and sing their songs (though it’s a shame about having to clean up after them again!).  Check out my short video of these 2 songsters.

And here are the rainbow lorikeets in all their glory!

Rainbow lorikeets lining up for a feed

The galahs are still being seen around too. I captured this photo of 3 of them together.

Just a couple of galahs. 🙂

I also spotted 2 scaly breasted lorikeets. Such dainty little things!

Two cute little scaly breasted lorikeets

Igor and Maggie, our resident magpies, had 2 babies to bring up this time. Here’s a shot of mum and dad with one of the young ones having a snooze.

There was a bit of excitement early one morning when three king parrots turned up for a visit. There were 2 males and a female, and normally they all take off as soon as someone goes out the door, but on this occasion, two of the birds actually came onto the veranda when they saw me go outside. I think they may have mistaken me for someone else!

The female king parrot who seemed to take a liking to me since she attempted to fly onto my shoulder a few times before I freaked out too much and went back inside!
One of the male king parrots on the veranda
The other male king parrot close by in a tree

And finally, I have an audio recording of a mystery bird. I remember hearing this bird occasionally every now and then, but it was always in the distance. One evening, I clearly heard it in a gum tree behind the house so I was able to record it. It was heard at 6.45pm just on dusk, so it was too dark to make anything out at the time. If anyone knows what this bird is, please let me know!

 

Thanks for stopping by and reading about my backyard wildlife visitors. 🙂

This is my participation in a monthly event called Wildlife Wednesdays hosted by Tina of My Gardner Says… You can see the wildlife visitors of other participants here.

Pied Currawong Family

The pied currawong is one of my favourite birds. I’ve been lucky enough to have a pair of these birds live around my home. Mum and Dad currawong have been raising a family here every year since 2012 and I’ve gotten to know them quite well. (You can see full size photos and better quality videos on my blog site rather than in the feed)

A rare photo of male and female pair together. (Male is on the left).

The pied currawong is a large bird, about 50cm in length, and is black in colouring with dark grey legs and a white patch under the tail and white tips of the wings which you can see when they’re in flight.

These birds are found on the east coast of mainland Australia and live in forests but have adapted to suburban living.

They eat small lizards, insects and berries. These birds will also take baby birds or small birds like finches, which I think is why many people don’t like currawongs. The food is either eaten immediately or stored away in a fork of a tree to eat later. The hook on their large beak is used to shred the prey.

It’s very difficult to tell the sexes apart with these birds, so the only way I can tell with this pair is that the male looks more robust and is not scared of me, while the female is a bit thinner and is quite timid. And when there are babies around, it’s obvious which one is the female as she is the one who feeds them.

male pied currawong

Above is the male currawong in a photo take in December 2012 when the pair had babies. You can see he’s looking a little worse for wear having been busy feeding Mum while she’s sitting on the nest.

Here he is in June 2017, looking stunning and very healthy during winter.

Here he is again. What a look on his face!

The female currawong is pictured here in some photos from November 2016 when there were young around. She looks like she’s having some time out.

And who can blame her wanting some quiet time when she has 2 or even 3 babies constantly bothering her for something to eat.

Here is a video from December 2015 of one of 3 young currawongs the pair raised that summer.

From my observations of this pair of currawongs, I’ve noticed that Dad feeds Mum while she’s on the nest, and seems to help out a little feeding the babies until they fledge, then Dad goes it alone, leaving Mum to continue feeding and raising their young. However, Mum does things a bit differently to what I’ve read about them raising their family. Year after year, I’ve seen Mum currawong feed her babies and then after barely a month, she starts pecking them quite viciously after she feeds them, to get them away from her, then hardly a week goes by and the young ones have already left and moved on. From what I’ve read about these birds, Mum should be looking after them for a lot longer. Maybe she’s just not a very patient mother.

The currawongs are never demanding birds (unlike the butcherbirds!) so I don’t mind giving them a bit of meat to eat. They seem to have a bit of a ritual going where they wait in the gum trees near the house, and when they see me appear on the veranda, they fly closer, forever on the lookout for the mean magpies that could attack them, then they fly over to the railing and wait to be thrown a bit of meat or for me to leave a bit for them to take.

This is short video of me feeding the male currawong. You can hear a baby begging for food in the background.

And this is a short video of the female currawong coming to get a bit of meat then flying off. You can see the young ones following her. You can also see the white wing tips as they fly.

The poor girl looks in dreadful condition, missing feathers at her neck, skinny, harried, and panicky about getting attacked by the local magpies (they have babies at the same time so it can be a bit of war zone at times).

It’s taken me a long time, but I have managed to record a few of the pied currawong’s calls. They seem to have quite a few different ones. You may need to turn up the volume to hear the recordings properly.

I love the sounds in this first recording. I’m not completely sure, but I think it’s 2 birds, each making a different sound.

 

This next recording is what I hear quite often. I’ve noticed they make this sound during flight.

 

This last recording is like the one above but has an extra inclusion.

 

I hope you found this post interesting and that it gave you an insight into the life of a pied currawong.

Can You Help Identify This Bird?

Yesterday I heard a new bird and don’t know what it was. It sounded like it was a few doors down and was quite a pleasant chirrup. However, because I didn’t know what it was, I had no idea what I was looking for.

I managed to get a short audio recording of the bird call. You can hear the bird calling over the chatter of rainbow lorikeets and a pied butcherbird.

 

When: 9th April 2017, around 4pm

Where: Gold Coast area, semi rural

If you know what this bird is, please let me know!

The Grey Butcherbird Family

We had never seen grey butcherbirds at our place until November 2016, when I saw a whole family of them turn up in my backyard. Where they came from, or even why they appeared, remains a mystery.

Two juvenile grey butcherbirds can be seen at the front of the photo and an adult can just be seen behind them.

The adult grey butcherbird has a beautiful grey, white and black colouring.

The juveniles are coloured brown and beige.

The family of greys were often seen perched on the roof of the garage. They almost always stay out the back, except on the odd occasion when they venture out the front, only to be swooped on by the pied butcherbirds. This makes for some interesting observations when a pied swoops on a grey and then lands on the veranda railing looking quite pleased with himself, and he is then swooped on by a grey butcherbird as payback. The look on their face is priceless!

It’s always interesting observing birds, and I captured this strange moment on my camera between an adult and juvenile.

Have you figured out yet why this bird is called a butcherbird? These birds hang their prey (lizards, mice, beetles, insects and even chicks) on a twig or in a fork of a branch and then use their sharp hooked beak to hack away at it.

Despite its intimidating looks, the grey butcherbird has a lovely musical song. Below is a video of one of the juveniles practising his singing.

I’ve managed to also capture some of the grey butcherbird calls in the audio recordings below. They have quite a repertoire!

 

 

 

Here is one of the juveniles looking right at me!

I haven’t seen either of the juvenile birds since the start of February. I have only seen the two adults. I miss my little juveniles turning up on the veranda to practise their singing. I wonder if something happened to them because it is my understanding that they’re supposed to hang around with their parents for about a year and help out with the raising of the next lot of babies (like the kookaburras and pied butcherbirds), before they fully colour up and go out on their own. Does anyone know if the juveniles always stay with their parents to help raise future chicks before going it alone, or is it possible the young ones have already moved on as they would have been about 4 months old the last time I saw them?