Little Wattlebirds

The Little Wattlebirds nest in a wicker basket lantern that hangs under our veranda roof.  They have been doing so for years.

The basket hangs in a heavy traffic area just outside our kitchen door.  We watch them from our table outside on the veranda.  For most of the year our weather is mild.  We we spend a lot of time there and it’s where we eat most of our meals.   The wattlebirds are not far away and the parents don’t get alarmed unless we walk directly under the nest when they are feeding.  Sometimes in the evening when it’s nice and still we sit at the table, watch a starlit sky silhouette the towering trees behind the house, chat and have a drink while the mother bird roost on the nest and goes to sleep.

It doesn’t get more peaceful and pleasant than that.

Wattlebirds are not songsters.  Their normal call sounds like a rusty gate hinge buffeted in the wind.  But when they arrive for nesting the two mates speak to one another in soft gentle chirps and tweets that sound sweet and endearing.

They fly in and inspect the real estate,  calling out to one another.  If all is good, they begin renovations. Take out a twig. Add a twig. Throw in some soft fluffy stuff.  Move things around a bit. When that’s done, they lay their egg or eggs and the mother bird sits the nest.

The young hatch.  Stick up their little fuzzy heads on thin reedy necks, mouths wide open and the parents swoop into to feed them.

They are dedicated doting parents, both parents  feeding their hatchlings.  In the video you see one feeding and flying away to be immediately replaced by the mate.

It’s never without drama.  We grow attached to them and it’s a warm and wonderful thing to watch them progress daily.  So when danger comes we are concerned.  Some birds raid nests, eat eggs and young chicks.  Because their nest is under the veranda roof and close to the house, predators tend to avoid it.  Still there are butcher birds, magpies, currawongs,crows and kookaburras to watch out for.  The parents forage continually for food but they’re never far away.  They are honeyeaters and there are plenty of native flowering shrubs nearby and in our backyard to sustain them.

The chicks are almost ready to leave the nest. They’ve progressed rapidly.  They will leave the nest and roost in a nearby tree or shrub, calling to their parents who sweep in and feed them.  One day soon they will fly away.

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 We had a visitor and our dog, Shadow, went off in vollies of barks, running to and fro along the veranda exuberant, excited and noisy.  Mayhem ensued.   One of the chicks panicked and fell out of the nest.  Julie gently swooped it up in a soft cap and placed it back in the nest.  So all was well.

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No surprises.  Today one of the chicks has left the nest.  The one that reached higher when the parents came into feed.  I’m sure it’s the one that fell from the nest the other day. It had been standing up right and stretching its wings for few days. We can hear it calling plaintively.  The parents attention is now divided between the bird in the bush and bird in the nest.

One chick is left and it’s getting anxious. We watch and wait for a few days.  Mum comes in at night and sits the nest.  Baby bird is curious but we’re not certain it’s going to join the sibling just yet.  Parents gently coax and cajole from the sidelines…

So it’s gone.  The parents are still hanging around in the backyard but the babies are not to be seen.  We suspect they are hiding in the thick cover of the golden canes.  This morning two butcher birds swooped into the backyard chasing one of the babies in under the veranda and into the kitchen window with a loud bang.  Baby flew off into the shrubs and eventually the butcher birds left.