As many of you know my wife and I have been able to take more regular birding dates. This means our usual birding adventure includes a meal together. It allows us to explore new areas around Sydney and its outskirts and take time out for each other doing something we both enjoy, especially since I am currently a full time author, and my wife is working part time. This is an important aspect couples need to consider when their nest is empty – re establishing relationship around common interests.
I had a tip off that Rainbow Bee-eaters, an inland migratory species, are breeding here in our Summer months, and have appeared in the trees near Camden Community Farm and Walkway. We had never explored this area before so it became an adventure for us. It was lovely watching members of the community tending harmoniously together the little farm they had established on the outskirts of their town south west of Sydney. I did showcase the Bee-eaters earlier this year when we followed them to their Winter playground in Far North Queensland. Click here to review my post. It was a walkway through a cattle property which led down to the Napean River, though the river was not negotiable. As we walked we wondered how we would find them as there were not many trees and the wind was starting to increase as clouds came over. Some distance away toward the river, I sighted a pair of Rainbow Bee-eaters, and so the story begins as we stood and watched what transpired before our eyes in the next 30 minutes. It was a very uniquely special gift or opportunity granted to us both. Sadly, due to clouds and distance from the birds the quality wavered somewhat, so please excuse the quality or lack thereof. We start with the happy couple sitting alone together. Sometimes just being quiet and sharing each other’s company is enough to declare loving devotion. It certainly means more than a partner or parent that says “I love you”, but is never present or never takes/makes time to be interested in spending time with you.
If you look very carefully above (or to top of page) you will notice that the male bird on the right has more blue features and has a long pair of streamers extending from its tail. As with the Tropicbird tail streamers, these may assist the bird in areal maneuver, as they impress their mate or dive for their prey. They are very fast flying birds able to think and act with lightning speed, hence their ability to see and catch flying insects from their perch. The female on the left has less blue but has only a very short streamer which is sometimes barely visible. The courting process begins with just quietly sitting with the one you love for some time. Sometimes flying off to catch a flying insect on the fly but always returning to the same branch or very close by their prospective partner.
We know they are on a date courting because these birds are normally found roosting and moving in large flocks. The male eventually starts making eyes toward the female, showing her interest. This is the prelude to the following courtship. She remains uninterested as is the accepted protocol for an upright female.
He realizes that he has to win her over, just as us human males know. Now this has a set protocol also for many species. For Terns and Gulls they must present a fish, and slap it in their face. If the female eats it, its on (or at least he is) and they mate. For the Catbird it is native fruits. For the Bee-eater it is bees or other flying insects. So off he flies to make his first catch for her. She watches as he leaves knowing what may follow.
He hasn’t gone long and he catches his first gift for his sweetheart, and returns to her branch.
In this next sequence he waits with the insect and when she faces him, presents it to her. She shows her appreciation and receives the gift and eats it, while he watches.
She now tests his intent by flying away from him to another branch to see what follows.
She moves about and finally lands on different branch as he follows her. He realizes once is not enough and so off he goes again to get the second gift, which should do the trick to assure his bell that he is her man.
This confirms their relationship, they have just had their wedding ceremony, and now without to much to do the next phase begins. You will see later that the male parties after the consummation. The male moves behind the female. Now at this stage if she is uncertain at all about his advances she has an opportunity to move away. This would mean she is playing hard to get and he will have to go and find better food gifts for her, or do some clever flight acts, but in this case she sits and allows him to quietly sit behind her for several minutes. He waits patiently till she looks up at him with loving acceptance and…
The mating process begins with much earnest and wing movement by the male. His tail feathers and streamers moving/rotating about as he mounts her and proceeds placing his beak over hers.
After what seemed like several minutes the male rises high above the female, who watches as he begins his celebratory routine of areal acrobatics, he is one happy boy!
Beautiful flight movements of which I could only capture two.
After ten seconds he comes back to sit with her again, knowing that neither of them will be alone any more but will share together in digging the nesting tunnel, incubating her eggs and raising their young.
So there it is, what a wonderful adventure it was to follow this couple’s relationship development, and what a gracious gift from our Heavenly Father. I need say no more. Oh! If you are interested here is a small slideshow summary of the above with one of my 7 love songs for my wife as the backing. I hope it inspires you in your relationships and gives insight into our gracious God who always keeps the best till last.
Have a wonderful week, stay safe and love the one you’r with. Thank you for your valued prayers and well wishes as we have been smothered in smoke and 60 out of control bushfires ravage our state, consuming not only dry forests but for the first time, ancient irreplaceable rainforests. Thousands of birds and animals have already been incinerated, over 200 houses lost and 4 dead as this drought, high temperatures and strong winds fan fire storms. God is trying to get our attention but many refuse to acknowledge his existence. A big thanks to our Volunteer Fire Fighters and their intrepid bravery which is a mark of the Aussie spirit. Also a big thanks to those helpers from other states, New Zealand and the US that are assisting. We were meant to holiday in one of these areas next week, but possibly not. The terrifying thing that the Fire Commissioner reminds us is that it is the forests yet unburnt near our heavily inhabited cities that is the biggest worry, as Summer has three months to come with hotter stormier weather. Dry Thunderstorms are our greatest threat, starting fires in very remote areas of forest. It is the first time in our history that no one is safe from the fires, as they can start anywhere. Saddest of all, several young children have already been caught and some charged for starting the fires around Sydney and up north, causing much damage.
You can purchase your copy of my book for immediate delivery by post in time for Christmas on my BirdBook page.
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.