Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Nestful of Magpie-larks

It has been very interesting watching the Magpie-larks (Pee-wees) that have nested in the big pine tree next to my house. The nest was too high and far away for me to get really good looks at the young but it was obvious that there was often one bird pushing up above the others. This bigger and 'pushier' bird then took to standing on the side of the nest rather than being cramped in with the others.
My experience with watching nesting birds is not large! I had Noisy Miners nesting close to my house down in NSW and I watched them raise several lots of young. When the young fledged they flew after the parents immediately. Sometimes there was one that was a little slower and it fluttered into a low branch of a near-by tree for a while. These Pee-wees have been quite different.
Last Thursday the larger one got out of the nest and stood on the branch close-by for the rest of the day. It teeter-tottered and did not look at all steady. The next day it got itself up higher into the tree by carefully moving along near-by branches. There are so many small branches so close to each other that it was not hard to find places to climb. Over the next couple of days the other three young ones all left the nest and teetered higher into the tree. It was as if the parents had provided a climbing gym right at their door! At first they only used their wings for balancing as they moved along but then they began fluttering from branch to branch.
Yesterday afternoon three of the young ones followed the parent birds down onto my lawn. They all had a go at finding things to eat among the grass but it was obviously easier to demand food from the parents. The young ones were even less steady standing on the ground. Maybe they found it difficult after the tree branches which had been swaying in the strong wind. One young bird kept calling from up in the tree and the parents flew back to feed it there. The first photo is of a young bird and the next photo is of two young ones following the adult. The beaks are different colors in the juveniles and adults.
There was a near disaster when one young one flew into the side of my house and then couldn't seem to find its way back out from under the veranda. My animals had ignored them until then but a young squawking bird clinging to the bricks and even perching on the dog's sleeping kennel was just too much! I grabbed the cat and locked her up and then held the dog while the little bird sat and thought about things for several moments before it found its way back to its parents.
This morning some of the young ones are being fed up in the tree and a couple are chasing the parents around my yard. The cat is locked up and the dog is ignoring them.
This video was taken this morning and you can hear the harsh hissy" noise the young ones make to attract the parents.


  1. It is lovely to watch youngsters make their first explorations of the world outside the nest. Nice to see the video of the youngster being fed by the parent. Like all young birds they sound very demanding.

  2. Hi John, the adult birds are noisy as well so I guess the juveniles are simply following their lead. I've enjoyed watching this lot.

  3. Great post Mick watching the younsters learn from mum and dad.

    BTW you asked about my digi-scoped shots. Only the bird pics were taken in that manner. Dale's blog at is worth a visit for helpful tips plus and may be of some help.

  4. Thanks Frank. It's very kind of you to list those links about digiscoping. I shall go through them very carefully before I make any decisions about how to get that extra length/reach all birders seem to want.