Continuing our recent road trip to western NSW I decided to feature some of the many examples of bird aggression we noted along the way. Spring changes the order of things in local bird communities where most birds normally respect each other most of the time. This is the case especially where several different species of territorial birds share the same geographical area. Spring means nesting for most passerines, which also means omnivorous birds such as raptors, Magpies, Currawong and Kookaburra, suddenly become a threat to smaller birds. One very courageous little bird, which is featured in my book is the Willy Wagtail which is honoured for its bravery. As you can see below when a Magpie enters its exclusion zone.
The male Magpie was intimidated but refusing to leave, so Willy put out a call to his nesting partner and she came, to assist in bringing success.
Australia under normal circumstances has the most aggressive and sometimes deadliest birds in the world, due to particular territorial and feeding cultures. In the feature photo above it is continuously attacking this quite placid Kookaburra which has landed within its exclusion zone. Here are some more shots as it continuously tries jumping on its back to move it on, which it finally does after its many relentless attacks. Remember one snap of the Kooka’s beak could kill this bird, but the Kookaburra is normally a very placid and peace loving bird.
While picnicking with my family under a large fig while in Forster we found nesting birds which were defending their area. The female sat on the nest while the males kept watch and went for food. We found this Magpie-lark (PeeWee) nest first, as well as another nearby.
Also at the other end of the tree was this Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike nest with male standing watch.
Tensions were high as both nesting parents were on high alert, since the tree was laden with ripe figs and Australasian Figbirds were noisily feeding in the canopy above.
While we were out for a walk we heard a commotion between three Eastern Rosella. These beautiful birds were having a battle, where one appeared to be assailed by the other two, possibly marital rights, as these birds pair for life. Here are some action shots, as the aerial combat lasted some time, before the intruder left.
While we were picnicking by the water under the fig, we noticed Eastern Osprey coming in and going out from over the bay, bringing food for their nest which was conveniently stationed on a telecommunications tower in town. The telcos had placed a special wire basket beside the tower equipment for the Osprey to nest in. Notice the pair of Magpies making their presence known.
The problem was that in a tall Norfolk pine nearby was a Magpie nest and they considered this raptor a threat, though was was not really, as Osprey are fish eaters, and their talons are unique for that purpose. Regardless, the Osprey nest was in the 100 metre exclusion zone, and so were attacked on every approach and departure. This poor Osprey had a trail of seaweed, so it appeared caught in its talon. The Magpie bite is the worst bite a bird could sustain mid air, as raptors attack their prey from above, and are no match against smaller more agile passerines.
If you have never made eye contact or been attacked by a nesting Australian Eastern Magpie this photo will give you an idea what happens just before the attack, though usually there is no warning and you are swooped by a surprise attack, sometimes with injury incurred by its very powerful beak to ear or head.
Here is the nest with female on it, in a public park of all places.
This is a sign that goes up in Spring-Summer months in Magpie hot spots:
Here is an interesting attack between the Willy Wagtail and the Australian Magpie in the Western Plains Zoo grounds. Two aggressive nesting birds again,
This Magpie had territorial rights, as they do, over these Apostlebirds at The Dish at Parkes Australia’s famous radio telescope the world’s first large construction of its type, which is over 50 years old and played an important role in the Apollo Luna landing. The Apostlebird is community bird that spends most of its time scavenging in dry woodlands on inland NSW in a similar way to the White-winged Chough, which is usually present also, and makes a similar sound.
The Dish as us Aussies refer to it, which is also the title of an Australian movie you can view, which is about the dramatic role it played in the Apollo landing, but does contain fictional elements as all movies for entertainment do:
The Apostlebird got its name because it was often seen by the first settlers in family groups of about 12, which must have caused the thought that Jesus had 12 apostles to incur such a non descriptive name. These birds are similar in behaviour and cultural habit to the Choughs, though any number of birds may be found in each group.
Apostlebirds are known as huddlers as are Choughs. They are often found in small huddles together, and roost like this also.
These White-winged Chough were seen nearby. When they are seen grazing from a distance the non birder will mistaken them for Ravens, but their red eye and white wings make them easy to identify.
Again the Willy Wagtail attacks a bird, which is not a threat to it, this very small White-plumed Honeyeater. The youngster was minding his own business when the Willy attacked, which caused the adult to come in and battle with the Willy, who finally ceased its attack. Due to the speed of the fight some of the battle shots are too out of focus, and not shown here.
The Willy Wagtail is a small gutsy fan-tailed flycatcher which builds a small round mud nest which the male bravely defends. They are found throughout Australia and New Guinea. and also in and their song, often melodious can at times be mistaken for another bird. They mate for life. Both male and female are identical in appearance, though the male is more aggressive and songful. Its hyperactive alert nature and frequent melodic song is often viewed as cheerfulness and good luck to some.
Some have asked how the Crested Pigeon fledglings nested in our Bottlebrush tree are doing. They are growing rapidly and now look like their parents but for their hair style, which is frequently adjusted by one of the youngsters. Here they are resting on the roof in the warm sunshine. They occasionally get hassled by the Noisy Miners but have become more accepted, whereas the Noisy Miners have driven both the ferule pigeons and ferule Common (Indian) Miners away immediately they enter their territorial space, for that we are thankful. Noisy visits and washes several times a day and he always lets me know.
You may remember the Grey Butcherbird I call Butch that visits me each day and sings to me after his bath, and how he brought his two juvenile youngsters to show them to me last year.
Here is one of those youngsters which has been taught to drink from our bird bath, he is now developing immature plumage and beginning to look like his dad. I enjoy these birds most of all for their joyful song as they call to each other continuously throughout the day. Almost every time I walk into the back yard Butch calls from the high native Casuarina trees when he sees me, and it always joys my soul with a thankful appreciation of how blessed we are. He and the other birds have come to know I am their friend. I have learnt so much from having them around, they are so intelligent.
Have a wonderful week enjoying the change of seasons be it Spring here in the south or Fall in the North, both are beautiful times. We are blessed to have rain again and the promise of a wetter Summer season for a change, which the birds are already enjoying as they actively nest. Though many have nested earlier than usual, possibly because they have learnt from the devastating fires and overwhelming months of smoke of last year, that early is better.
If this is your first visit, check out my website menu and Home Page for more helpful birding information and follow my weekly birding blogs to learn more about our uniquely amazing Australian birds and the benefits of bird watching as a healthy and stress relieving recreational pursuit.
You may like to visit my recent page inclusion to my website suggests good books that have been helpful to myself and many birders called Books on Birds.
We can glean from this aggressive seasonal bird behaviour, that there is always a reason behind any adverse or aggressive behaviour, whether bird or human. Whether it be territorial or nest protection, there is an underlying reason, which when understood, enables one to better navigate the changed conditions. Wisdom brings to knowledge the tool of understanding. When we meet or converse with people, it is good for us to be sensitive to their visual demeanor or outward expressions of their emotional state. They may show signs of anger, irritability, fear, insecurity or more importantly become withdrawn and depressed. It may be helpful for us if we detect a change like this, to explore this with them and ask them how they are feeling, and if they give the usual ” I’m alright!” share that you have detected change, and offer to listen while they share their story. Listening, helps unload a persons emotional stress, just by sharing it, a person can be saved from going into dangerous emotional waters which can lead to more serious negative personal events. Listening with empathy and concern is the greatest thing you can do for anyone who is suffering. Listen without making a judgement on their comments as these may only symptoms welling up from their deeper emotional pain and disappointment. The wonderful thing is, you do not have to have the answers to give them a quick fix, as men often think they need to fix it and why wives get upset when all they want them to do is listen and show empathy. No we can listen and learn and then ask: “What do you think you should do ?” and/or “I can see you are hurting, is there anything I can do to help ?” Nine times out of ten, they will already know what is needed, they just need encouragement and support through the immediate pain of their emotional crisis. The page on the Superb Lyrebird in my book “What Birds Teach Us” gives further helpful information to better understand and communicate with hurting people.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” – James 1:19 (NIV)
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” – Proverbs 15:1
“let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance” – Proverbs 1:5
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” – James 3:17,18
W. A. Hewson (Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy).
‘To introduce people to our unique Australian birds,
So we can learn from them how to live a healthy and happy life.’
NOTE: All photos, videos and music used on this website are photographed, composed, performed by the site owner and remains his copyrighted property, unless otherwise stated. The use of any material that is not original material of the site owner is duly acknowledged as such. © W. A. Hewson 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020.