Friday, 15 March 2013

Meeting the Peewee

The Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) is a very common suburban bird in Brisbane, it is often seen searching for food walking frantically across lawns, in pairs most of the times, if one is around usually the other is not far. I had the chance to study a breeding pair for a while and I was able to notice some very interesting things.

Male and female pair for life, different sexes have different colour patterns, females (above) have white forehead and throat, while males (below) have white eyebrows, black forehead and throat. Jouveniles have a mixed pattern with white throat and large white eyebrows, dark eyes and beak, audults have very light eyes and beak.

Both parents are very protective and won't hesitate to attack much larger birds which may be a threat for the nest such as crows. The nest is built with mud, grass and leaves. Male and female exchange nest duties approximately every 15 minutes, they both search for food so the babies can enjoy a constant food supply.

As the day gets hotter the parent stops sitting on the baby birds and stands over them with wings half open to provide shade to the nestlings.

Magpie-larks, also known as Peewees, are known to sing in duet to defend their territory. Each partner produces about one note a second but a half-second apart, so to the human ear it sounds coming from the same bird.

This beautiful bird has a very charming black and white plumage, which seems to be rather in fashion for Australian birds, their flying style reminds me of that of some bigger species of butterflies.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the Magpie-lark, until next time,

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