My wife and I enjoyed another walk through our local reserve yesterday, and again it was quiet and the absence or reduction in numbers of small birds, other than Miners noted. We immediately made our way to the Collared Sparrowhawk nest, where we heard the cries of the young Sparrowhawks, now flying and attempting to hunt around the nest area, but being quite noisy at it, and thus having little success not yet having attained to the element of surprise. This is also known by some as the Australian Sparrowhawk. You may hear their call in the background of this clip, over the very noisy Cicadas, which grace our forests each January.

Juvenile Collared Sparrowhawk

The three juvenile Sparrowhawks were noisily flying about in search of food around the nest. One juvenile was feasting on a bird, which may have been from the parent. The parents were not seen at all. Notice that their eye color and classic Sparrowhawk stare are now well formed, though their juvenile plumage persists. Click on photos to enlarge them.

One of the birds flew back to the security of the nest hoping to find food there, or hoping the parent would bring something as was their previous expectation, but soon left disappointed.

The small bird population must really be taking a thrashing from the presence of these three hungry youngsters, not to mention the two adults, which seem to be hunting further away from there, having depleted local supplies. We noticed the larger predator birds, less likely to be subject to predation, were present, which included the Australian Magpie, Pied Currawong and Grey Butcherbird. The sound of the three rang out through the park, as did the occasional chatter of the Rainbow Lorikeet and prolonged squawk of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. The Magpies and Butcherbird appeared to be young also, but the bird most at danger, though very apt at hiding and fast movement was this juvenile White-browed Scrubwren, which would be a likely meal for the Sparrowhawks. The Magpie families in this park know me and have a visual remembrance that I am their friend, allowing me to move extremely close to them. As I have shared in recent posts, research has shown they have the amazing ability at facial recognition and memorizing faces of humans. Being a very intelligent bird, it determines and remembers whether you are either friend or foe. It is interesting to see them walk right next to me, and quickly move away when a stranger they do not recognize walks after me.

Interesting as it might seem, the two feature birds we saw on our walk both had the name Collared. Our Australian Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) is actually an original subspecies of the Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) found in the Northern Hemisphere. Several of the islands near Australia (Oceania) have subspecies likewise with different names reflecting some venerable attribute, for some amazing reason. This little fellow is well known in our park and breeds well there each year due to several large ponds where small waterbirds and fish provide food sources. The ponds are fed by storm water from the surrounding streets, refreshing after rain. This beautiful blue bird is always a delight to the eye, especially when seen fishing. They are the smaller version of our Laughing Kookaburra which is the largest in the Kingfisher family. This little guy was fishing in one of the lesser ponds, using his unique and powerful binocular vision aided with the ability to correct light refraction in water, allowing it to accurately see and extract fish from the water. This is one of my wife’s favorite birds.

The Forest Kingfisher shown in my first book What Birds Teach Us is mainly a land feeder, like the Kookaburra. It is found in rainforest and thick forested areas by creeks and has two distinct tones of blue with a darker shade on its head and secondaries and with white patches above its lores. Click image below to find out more about this beautiful introduction to Australia’s birds and their unique lives.


Have a wonderful week birding ! Our weather has been so unpredictable of late with unexpected showers sudden thunderstorms, beefing up the humidity. Bird numbers including migratory numbers are lower than usual, with some having relocated. We are awaiting the reprint of my first book which should be available in a couple of weeks.

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© W. A. Hewson 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023

11 Comments »

    • Thanks Donna, yes the Kingfisher blue is always a stunning capture in the sunshine. Each different species of Kingfisher have a another stunning shade f blue, which makes them so easyto spot, considering how small some of them are. I love that Magpies become so trusting, it is how God intended it to be.

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  1. What a good read. Thank you. I grew up in ‘ Rhodesia’ now Zimbabwe so seeing the Butcher bird again was great and I am with your wife in liking the blue of that King Fisher. The young of the Sparrowhawks showed so much of their character. Enjoyed this very much.

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    • Thanks Cindy, yes we have some amazing birds. I am currently reading a book called ‘Bird Minds’ which is written by one of our great Aussie ornithologists, Gisela Kaplin, as I love her books they are so informative. I am amazed at how different our birds are and how specialized and organized they are in their social contexts. Enjoy your week my friend.

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  2. Must be a good season for Sparowhawks. Our local family are well on the way, and successfully hunting and I’ve also heard calls from two other seperate locations.
    No doubt they are having an impact on the smaller species. But it seems to be very quiet just about everywhere.
    We have seen 8-10 clutches of Willie Wagtails so far, and several of the pairs are back on the job for another clutch. The complicated and disasterous weather patterns of Spring ruined most of the early starting clutches.

    Great work on the Kingfisher. Our local First Nations people held them as important harbingers of Spring when they arrived to nest, and as they departed and indication of cooler weather coming on.

    On an aside, I purchased a copy of the Compact version of the Australian Field Guide. It is one of the best I think, and really interesting notes.

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    • Wow, those Wagtails are so committed to success David, great examples of perseverance and bravery. We do not see many around here, they may have been eaten. Yes the weather has been terrible for breeding this year, as are the flooded trails. Is the Field Guide you mentioned a recent edition of Morcombe’s ? I have his compact glove box version also as well as the app and the larger one (second Edition), but the versions I have are out of date as several of the bird names have now been changed and subspecies changed. We still use the glove box one and the large one as it is faster to find birds than the more modern Bird Guide. I just change the names to the new one by hand. Enjoy your week my friend.

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