Sunday, November 23, 2008

Honeyeaters help themselves

Seems innocent enough, doesn't it? Male Rufous-throated Honeyeater (Conopophila rufogularis) collects material for nesting. But thieves are ever with us.

Victims of this robbery are the Brown-backed Honeyeaters (Ramsayornis modestus) that defied my prediction of failure with a nest right in front of the Tyto hide. The pair three days ago began an even more noticeable nest outside the hide.

Progress seemed slow and work rather off and on, but that's not too unusual. Today, the nest was being deconstructed by the Rufous-throateds, busy unpicking spider webs binding the nest and carrying them to an islanded paperbark 30 metres away.

The four prominent small honeyeaters in the wetlands are the BBs, the RTs, and the Browns and (slightly larger) Yellows. BBs nests are targeted by all three other species, but I can't recall seeing the thieves' nests being raided until abandoned.

Browns and Yellows hide their nests better. But RTs, like BBs, build their dangling nests in the open, over water usually, and yet escape theft. It may be that the BBs' habit of stop-start work invites the other species to help themselves.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Tony
Interesting documentation of theft.
So, if the other Honeyeaters don't get your nest, the Cuckoos have next shot, eh?
Its a tough world out there.

Tyto Tony said...

Sure is, Denis. And Brush, Little Bronze+Gould's and Horsfield's Cuckoos are all active right now, though quieter and thus harder to find.

Mosura said...

Must be a shortage of recycled building materials :-)

Interesting observations!

Tyto Tony said...

The spiders have been slacking!

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