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I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Celebrating Nests

Every October Birdlife Australia (originally the Royal Australasian Ornithologists' Union, then Birds Australia and most recently Birdlife, since a merger with Bird Observers' Club of Australia) declares a Bird Week. This week is it. This year the theme is nests; see here for more information. Here is my own contribution; just a selection of different types of nests, with regard to structure, position and building materials.

A nest can be anything from literally nothing at all, to the most complex structure conceivable. And imagine building such a structure using primarily your teeth! (Birds carry material in either beak or claws, but generally do the construction with the beak only.)

So, it can be the most rudimentary scrape, for disguise:
Red-capped Plover nest, Comerong Island.
 or a lined indentation or ground scrape:
Southern Lapwing, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.
or an existing hollow:
Chilean Flicker chick, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.

Scarlet Macaws, Peruvian Amazonia.
or an excavated burrow:
Magellanic Penguin and chick, Seno Otway, Chilean Patagonia.

Pied Kingfisher, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda.
Then there are the wonderfully complex constructed nests, which may be hanging:
White-throated Gerygone, Canberra.

Yellow-rumped Casique, Manu National Park, Peru; build huge colonial grass nests.
Or in a fork:
Patogonian Tyrant on nest, Alerce Andino National Park, southern Chile.
This was one of the most beautiful nests I ever saw, heavily disguised with mosses.
Or on a branch, perhaps of sticks:
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Canberra.
Or a wonderful mud construction:
Fairy Martin nests, south-west Queensland.

White-winged Choughs, Forbes, New South Wales.
Or a massive stick construction on a rock stack:
Ospreys, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia.




Or even floating on water, where the heat from decomposing vegetation helps incubate the eggs:

Australasian Grebes, Canberra.

Black Swan, Batemans Bay, New South Wales.
And of course this is only a glimpse at some of the solutions that birds have derived to cope with the problem of protecting and incubating their eggs, and later their chicks. More another day - but meantime, in southern Australia at least, this is the time to go and look at some!

1 comment:

Flabmeister said...

A brilliant nidiferous collection.

Martin