Sunday, September 10, 2006

Bird war

Some Willy Wagtails are nesting on the verandah:

(Seen at a distance through a window and an insect screen. Crappy photo, sorry. You might just have to imagine the details: most of the bird sticks out over the small roundish nest; its beak points left, its tail angles up to the right.)

They were there last year too, which is when bully-bird Australian Ravens stole all the eggs before they hatched. The same thing is happening again this year, except this time the enemy is a young Butcherbird. The damn thing seems to be fearless and certainly isn't distressed by the wagtails' fierce defence of their territory.

Whenever I hear their distress calls, I race out and join the fight, my contribution being to yell at the butcherbird, who then responds by ignoring me. This morning, infuriated by its blatant disregard for my power and authority ("Don't you know I'm a human??") I hit it with a stick. Yes, really.

It was so distressed by this abuse that five minutes later it was back, sitting overhead on the guttering, its head out of view. It was probably mooning me, the bastard.

Yesterday the nest held three eggs:

Today there is only one.


And now none.