Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Who gives a fig for colour?

Green, Yellow, Banana. All colourful names. But no more for the male Australasian Figbird (Sphecotheres vielloti), above thinking about swallowing another of the dry, tasteless (to us humans) fruits it loves - and few other birds show great fondness for.

Figbirds came in two races, S. vielloti and S. flaviventris, till the split was ended with a revised list (Christidis & Boles) early this year. The male birds will continue to show big differences: northern yellows grading through to southern greens.

Closely related to figbirds (usually on the same page in field guides), the Olive-backed Orioles (Oriolus sagittatus) are less obvious and seldom so brightly plumaged as the above juvenile bird. Much of the contrasting colour on the back will disappear with adult plumage.

So much for colour. What about sounds? I've often been struck by what appears in honeyeaters to be more curiosity about strange noises than other birds show. This White-gaped Honeyeater today seemed to react to the Canon's clattering shutter.

I'd been standing in long grass chasing Tawny Grassbirds when the White-gaped darted in and struck several 'listening' poses as the camera clacked away. Honeyeaters are also among the few birds ever to react at my otherwise ineffectual 'pishing'.

While on the subject of theories, limited searches of possible Little Bittern daytime hideouts have revealed absolutely nothing resembling the apparently shaped space found last month at the base of a small tree springing from Scleria (Razor Grass). Guess it was just a natural artifact.

Finally, the issue of huge fish and small Azure Kingfishers nestlings. First readings suggest the birds simply truck the fish in. If the fish is eaten, fine. If not, it can sit and rot in the darkness. Along with bones, other unwanted morsels, excreta, and anything that may have crawled in.

Can't wait till nestlings have fledged and I get a chance to sniff the delicate odour of Azure domestica! :-(


mick said...

That's a great pose on the White-gaped Honeyeater! Good luck with the young kingfishers. The photos will be amamzing.

Gaye said...

hi Tony,

yes, the Fig Birds around here (Hunter Valley, NSW) are definitely of the green variety, while I saw yellow on my recent visit to north Queensland.

I too, am looking forward to your Kingfisher observations, and must scroll back to see what I have missed.


Duncan said...

I'm with Mick Tony, the honeyeater shot is a beaut, tells a story.

Tyto Tony said...

Hi Mick and Gaye: Can't promise Azure fledgling pictures. Seems it's rare to ever see them sitting around for long. And deluge today may change things. We'll see tomorrow -weather allowing.

Gidday Duncan: It's great when birds arrive up close and stick around for a bit.

Aside to all: in light of latest IE security scare, and because I didn't much ever like Firefox, I've gone to Google's Chrome browser. I now get thumbnail with some comments (and curious font size changes in bits of my posts). Thus, I get kayak with Mick, and youngish stranger with binos from Duncan. Interesting! But I still have to ID myself to post my comments.

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