HAPPY HOME: Willie wagtails pick unusual settings to nest. PHOTO: KEITH IRELAND
HAPPY HOME: Willie wagtails pick unusual settings to nest. PHOTO: KEITH IRELAND

BIRD WATCH: Where willie wagtail built the nest?

GENERALLY the majority of our perching birds nest in the outdoors, in trees, on branches or in shrubbery. One of those that normally builds its nest on a horizontal branch, has also adapted to the benefits of human habitation using horizontal beams or other similar man-made constructions. This is the bright and chirpy willie wagtail which frequently deserts the exterior environment for sometimes unusual settings.

One such setting was shown to me by a former dairy farmer who had retired and removed most of the apparatus from his shed. His separator had hung from the ceiling on a thick rope. The rope was cut off and to keep it up out of the way, he had tied a rather large knot in it. A pair of willie wagtails had built their nest on top of the knot where it was safe and secure under the roof and out of harm's way. When I saw it, four babies overflowed the little nest.

In a different old shed which had previously been used for the storage of meat, some rusted "S" shaped hooks were left hanging across a fairly high rail. In the bottom upward curve of one of the hooks, nestled a neat cup-shaped structure with four eggs in it. The parent birds took turns at the sitting on the eggs and later, both kept up a steady stream of insects for the young.

Another strange selection was outdoors in a paddock. An old and disused forage harvester sat rusting in the sun. On one of the crossbeams, the wagtails had their nest. Being metal and out in the hot Queensland sun, the beam became too hot to touch but this did not deter the birds. With no protection from the elements, the parent birds guarded their nest from predators, storms and the heat to have all their babies leave the nest safely.

Another most unusual site was an antennae disc attached to a TV aerial. This was right beside the wall of a house and in the disc, the willies built their nest.

Always busy and active, the willie has become one of our favourite birds and seems to reciprocate by being part of our everyday lives.

BIRD CALENDAR

THE Rockhampton North Rotary Birds of Australia Calendar 2016 is now on sale in CQ.

Photographs in the calendar are all by Keith Ireland.

All proceeds from the sale of the calendars go to cancer research.

Keith Ireland often gives talks on his bird photography to various community groups.

If your group would like Mr Ireland to be a guest speaker at any events in the region, contact him on 4928 6916.



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