Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Less Common birds at the Feeder Table

I have shown you so many Bowerbirds at the Feeder Table recently that I hesitate to show any more. However, I will, for good reason, I hope.

This image shows how the Satin Bowerbirds take over my feeder tables.
Most afternoons, about 4:30pm, I get up to 10 Bowerbirds coming or going.
There are 6 birds in this frame - all "green birds".
I mostly feed them small apples and occasional pears.
A small price to pay for so much excitement.
But, before I go on, I promised a fellow Nature Blogger "Catmint" that I would show her an immature Crimson Rosella, to clarify some confusion which had arisen. Here are two.
Juvenile Crimson Rosellas start more-or-less green, with blue flashes on their wings, blue in the tail (always) and blue cheek patches (always).
Check out the notes about coloured plumage development in Birds in Backyards (Australian Museum and Birds Australia site).The tricky thing is that there are regional differences in these colour transformations. I get some fully red/blue Crimsons here, but the ratio is probably only 1:5. I know I regularly see a pair of fully coloured birds, but I regularly get a dozen multi-coloured birds in the garden feeding on the grass seeds. These birds (in these images) are typical of most Crimson Rosellas seen in Robertson. They are very common in my garden (yard) but this is the first time I have seen any at my Feeder.

As the Crimson Rosellas mature, they develop the full crimson (dark red) colour for which they are named.
Here is a lovely fully mature, fully red/blue Crimson Rosella, taken in Canberra several years ago.

Back to the Table, this Crimson was holding its own with the Bowerbirds, which is pretty good going, as they tend to mob other birds.
One bird which the Bowerbirds never "mob" is this Pied Currawong.
Note the huge beak (quite dirty, as it has obviously been digging for grubs).
Another unusual visitor to my feeder table is the Grey Butcherbird.
This is the second time I have seen one (both juveniles) experimenting with a fruit diet.
Contrast the sizes of this bird and the Currawong, which is sitting in roughly the same place (reversed directions).
The adult Butcherbirds are much cleaner, especially the males.
This one might be a young male, just developing his full markings.
His head is quite clearly marked, but the belly is still scalloped.
Back to Bowerbirds.
Here is a stunning male.
Note the ivory-coloured beak
and the shiny blue-black plumage.
The "Blue Birds" are pretty nervous.
There is an optical illusion with the male birds.
They are so black that they almost appear to disappear.
If it were not for the pale beak, feet and those weird eyes,
you could almost not see the male.
Note the young bird flying in over the top.
Here is a female bird, showing strong markings on the wings, where a recent "moult" has seen new feathers grow in the wings.
The beak is fully dark, and the eye is purple. On the right is an immature male, just developing the ivory coloured beak.
The green colour around the neck is stronger green than the more bronze colour of the female.
Tree Dahlia flowers and fluffy Sassafras Seeds tomorrow.


Snail said...

The male satin bowerbirds usually get all the attention, but the females are really quite strikingly marked.

They're supposed to be around here, but I've yet to see one.

Gouldiae said...

G'day Denis,
Good stuff, great images. Satin Bowerbirds are an interesting species for sure.
I have a question - what's the name of the contractor that built your feeding complex? It's a beauty.

mick said...

I like all the birds - but especially the beautiful plumage details on the female and immature bowerbirds. From your first photo it looks as if you have a whole series of feeder platforms for the birds?

Russell Constable said...

Awesome photos Denis and I had to look twice to see that "hidden" male bower bird.What an assortment of avian treasures! Thank you so much for sharing these images mate!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick.
There are just two tables, but I have built a bird bridge between them.
Then there are the hand rails of the deck, which they use as well. Plus there are some small step-ladders and platforms which people use during the day, and that the birds use as vantage points, in the afternoons and mornings.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Snail
I would have expected your place to be crawling in Bowerbirds (of one species or another). Regents I would have guessed.
You have the Catbirds, which maybe replace them.
I am very fond of the bronze and green markings of the females and young males.
Besides the male is almost impossible to "capture" properly (photographically) - to get the sheen of the plumage.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gouldiae
The only real trick is the upturned screws acting as spikes, to hold the fruit on.
The rest is not much more than kindergarten carpentry.
I did ask my original builder to leave two posts of the deck longer than the others, to allow some kind of bird table to be added.
I subsequently realised that screws straight down through the top (into the verandah post) would not be a good strategy in this wet climate (water penetration issues). That's why I used two boards (which are screwed horizontally) to hold the base of the tray, and the tray itself is marine ply, which is very tough stuff.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Russell
Thanks again.
Yes, it is amazing how such a striking bird can almost disappear.
Such intensity of colour.

swampythings said...

Fabulous photos of the bowerbirds Denis - the eye colour is quite extraordinary. The only time we have sighted Satin bowerbirds here was after Cyclone Larry when they were observed feeding on Black sapote (Diospyros digyana) in the orchard.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Barbara
Snail says she doesn't get them either, so they must be more southerly birds than I had realised.
I need to check that out.
I just love their eyes. Totally special.
I am very lucky to have them here in such large numbers, but the locals who believe in self-sufficiency are less thrilled.

Tyto Tony said...

Fruitful series.

Flabmeister said...


All great images. I was particularly taken with the size-comparison of the Butcherbird and the Currawong, which I hadn't really appreciated before. The latter are also known here as the Force of Evil from the way the nesting birds swoop me as I wander about the place in Spring.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Martin
Thanks for that comment on the "Forces of Evil". Good name.
That one was huge.
I then realised that I had two photos of different species perched at the same distance away.
Glad you picked up on it.

catmint said...

Hi Denis, thanks for this - great photos of the rosellas, what a dill I was to confuse them with rainbow lorikeets, the colours are quite different, and the shape. And I am really complimented to be counted as a fellow nature blogger!!!!!!! cheers, catmint

kmico said...

go grassroots!! thanks heaps for the precise info on Bowerbirds as we are new to Alpine region of Vic. from NT and of course recognised similarities, but all 'official' sites for Vic/'Oz'/etc. failed to elucidate the difference between mature/immature/female Satin Bb's which you do most simply!! in the end, i found you by giving up on listings/sites/articles and swapped to images!! champion! now i know that we have all immature/female birds with one nest being made. i know it seems simple once these things are known, but i was stumped for a bit - thanks again for your lovely blog. oh, and i couldn't help but notice the word 'Eurovision' before, so a big congrats to Lena!

Denis Wilson said...

Welcome Kmico
Hope oyu enjoy your Bowerbirds as much as I do.
Wow, a change from NT to Alpine victoria is pretty extreme change.
Lena says Woof!

Denis Wilson said...

Kmico, did you mean to say "nest being built"? The Bower is a display ground. Immature males will occasionally build bowers. or try themselves out in another birds bower.
The females buoild nest high in dense trees and look after the next and chicks by themselves, according to what I have read. As with many birds, there may be some assistance from sisters or daughters.