Saturday, 20 September 2014

Buff-rumped Thornbill fledglings

A brrood of three fledglings is typical of Buff-rumped thornbills.
It is always worth paying attention to the numerous calls of the bush, as they all mean something to someone, and they can lead to a little bit of wildlife action. Yesterday, I heard a busy series of thin squeaking coming from an acacia shrub. It could have been almost any small bird creating a fuss at my approach, but I stopped and listening more closely. Then with experience of bird calls gathered over my lifetime, I knew that it was a begging call, although more complicated. A bit more time soon broke the calls into the same type from more than one individual, and I could also now make out an alarm call, so that clinched it. There was a brood of small young birds close by, and after a minute or so watching for movement, I found a brood of Buff-rumped Thornbills Acanthiza reguloides.

There were three fledglings huddled together on a branch making begging calls for their parents to feed them. I stepped back a few metres and soon an adult bird came in and fed them. They were quick, I barely saw a flick in the back of the shrub, then a bird was popping food down into a chick's throat. And then it was gone. The whole procedure only took seconds. Then the other parent came in and repeated the process. I took some optimistic shots and managed to capture a couple of food passes by holding the camera with the chicks in frame and focus. I watched their behaviour and when I saw them become excited and focused on something out of frame I pressed the shutter release which was set on high speed continuous shooting  mode.

The adults were soon foraging farther for food and the impatient chicks began to fidget and eventually could not wait any longer. They jumped from their perch and followed their parents into the next clump of foliage. In a few minutes they were well away as the family worked their way through the wood. Only their calls told they were there.

A parent bird thrusts food down into a fledgling's throat

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