Friday, March 4, 2016

A bird's gotta do what a bird's gotta do

A nest-building Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton) tries to pick up every white feather it sees. Because the small soft ones are the ultimate in nesting comfort. And she who must be obeyed is fussy about what she'll accept for her coming clutch.
But it seems the birds lack much sense of timing or scale and can't discriminate between perfect bedding and impossibly large challenges. Eventually they find that some feathers just won't fly.

What's in a colour? Young Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum) comes with bright orange bill and gape. Parents carry plain old dull dark grey. Presumably because no one is going to try to poke food into them while inside a dark cute nest shaped like baby's bootee. Possibly also the colour helps parents locate their young after they've first left the nest.

Why the striking pattern? Young Pallid Cuckoo (Cacomantis pallidus) stands out in full sunlight. Soon it will take on the grey tones of a maturing bird. The juvenile plumage doesn't bear much resemblance to honeyeaters and other species parasitised by Pallids. It is said to perhaps offer dappling camouflage as the bird spills out over the small nests the egg is deposited in. It's the first juvenile Pallid I've seen for years.

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