It was a perfect morning to discover some of Mount Majura’s winged and feathered residents. Friends of Mt Majura joined Tom Green of the Canberra Ornithology Group (COG) for a Bird Walk on Sunday, 13 November.
We found the large bowl shaped mud nest of White-winged Coughs plastered on a tree branch. Members of the social group were busy feeding the chicks. Tom told us that Coughs occasionally kidnap the young birds of a foreign social group and employ them as helpers. With this “criminal act” the group increases it’s capacity to feed more chicks of their own and to fight off territorial intruders.
We discovered a nest of a Noisy Friarbird, a summer migrant to Canberra, that breeds on Mt Majura. The parents frequently returned with large insects, which provide a protein rich diet for the chicks of these honeyeaters.
Nearby Currawongs raised two chicks. Currawongs previously migrated to the Canberra region in winter and returned to their breeding areas in the mountain ranges in spring. However these intelligent birds learned to exploit new food sources freely provided by Canberra gardens such berries of firethorns and privets or pet food left outside. By now many stay in Canberra to raise their chicks. Currawongs are infamous for taking eggs and chicks of other birds to feed their offspring and thus contribute to the decline of little woodland birds in the Canberra region.
We saw many Eastern and Crimson Rosellas. The two species are inhabitants of slightly different landscapes, wetter forests and open grassy woodlands, respectively. Human-induced changes brought the species in closer contact which each other. They are found to hybridize and a Crimson Rosella belonging to the “Blue-cheeked Rosellas” could confuse an inexperienced birdwatcher by having the white cheek patch found in “White-cheeked Rosellas”, to which the Eastern Rosella belongs.
Other birds we saw that morning were a Dollarbird (above left), a stocky bird named for the prominent white spot at the base of its wings, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Red Wattlebird, Brown Thornbills and Striated Pardalotes, busily feeding on lerps of Yellow Box leaves.
A highlight was the Tawny Frogmouth (above right) sitting on her flimsy nest high up in the fork of an Apple Box tree. It was not easy to locate her and her partner sitting nearby. Their stick-like immobility with the bills raised skywards and their intricately patterned plumage made the birds look like dead wood. They held their big yellow eyes closed as to not attract the attention of the ever present Currawongs or birds of prey.
Truly, a morning well spent.
14 November 2005
Photos by Geoffrey Dabb.
For pictures on the listed birds species visit COG’s website canberrabirds.org.au