With the breeding season behind them now the birds are becoming more visible and their songs more audible. Yesterday I could hear the beautiful song of the Riroriro or Grey Warbler and as I sat looking at the Tall Trees section of the garden I could see a tiny bird flitting amongst the branches.
A closer look confirmed that it was the Grey Warbler, surrogate parent of the Shining Cuckoo ( in the photo below. Note the difference in size between the tiny warbler pictured further down the post and this Cuckoo.)
Grey Warblers only eat insects so it was hunting time for small insects to be found in the trees. I went out into the garden with the camera in the hope of getting a clearer photo than this attempt last year in March.
I was fortunate to find the little warbler on the aged kowhai tree on the reserve. The remarkable feature I saw and heard was this male bird singing its heart out, all while grazing for food. It is stunning to watch such a little beak cleverly move along leaves and branches while also creating beautiful music.
Male Grey Warbler or Riroriro Feb 26th 2014
It was a but a brief moment or two before the wee bird flew across the road to a large bottle brush tree for more fine pickings and to serenade the neighbours.
The lyrics of this well-known song date back to the 1940s for the film adaptation of “Pinocchio” and begin……. ”When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you”
By Ned Washington, Leigh Harline.
Here are the emerging, delicate white star flowers on the garlic chives. They look good enough to make a wish on.
My wishes for more native birds appearing in my garden have continued to come true this week. Another slight thud on a window heralded the sight of another (or the same) Shining Cuckoo that I blogged about here.
This time the wee bird was ready to fly away very quickly. These Cuckoos migrate in autumn to various Pacific Islands such as New Caledonia and the Solomon’s. The navigation skills they possess to achieve that journey are impressive. Their ability to avoid window panes in New Zealand is not so good.
Earlier today I heard a bird noise that sounded foreign to me. It was a high pitched squeaking sound that was rather persistent. Then late this afternoon the sound was much closer and I discovered a mature Tui and its very newly fledged youngster in the Tulip Magnolia near the sugar water feeder.
By the time I came outside with the camera the birds had flown. However the insistent squeaking noise was not far away and I found the fledgling again in the Mahoe tree in the tall tree area of our garden.
It is a splash of light near the throat of this young bird not its wattles.
The parent bird flew off as I crept closer but my eye was caught by another fledgling bumbling about in the variegated Griselinia.
It would seem that the adult birds have bought their twins to my garden to feast on the Mahoe berries and with the sugar feeder not far away. Or better still they have nested here and raised these young.
It is almost impossible to gain clear images as the wee birds wisely remain amongst the thick foliage up high in the trees. Neither of these fledglings have wattles and their yellow edged beaks were still visible to my eye as they moved about the branches. Their agility has yet to develop and some of their feathers had a downy look still. They are very newly out of the nest.
And in further exciting bird news please link here to Toya’s blog where she has posted about her amazing successes at Zealandia over the past two days. Her photos of the Stitchbirds and today the Eastern Rosella feeding its four hungry babies are simply stunning and very informative and special.
New Zealand’s Forest and Bird organisation posted this information on their Facebook page today. I haven’t heard a shining cuckoo yet but when I do I will report to the spring migration research that is mentioned here:
Michael Anderson is postdoctoral fellow at Massey University who wants to know more about the arrival dates of the Long-tailed Cuckoo and Shining Cuckoo. These Cuckoos are NZ’s only forest birds that migrate out of the country. They breed in NZ, parasitizing endemic species, using them to raise their offspring for them. Little is known about their migration patterns, so Michael wants any info about the dates they arrive at each part of the country. Obviously we can’t ask customs. If you hear or see one of these birds, could you report it using one of these Google forms Long-tailed Cuckoo spring migration form http://goo.gl/ClBMWZ and the Shining Cuckoo spring migration formhttp://goo.gl/CDjbuh. Check out these links for more info about our cuckoos http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/long-tailed-cuckoo, http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/shining-cuckoo) and some nice writing about the Shining Cuckoo from NZbirds http://www.nzbirds.com/birds/pipiwharauroa.html –
The past week has had some dispiriting aspects to it but the cheering news from me is about the native birds.
Each morning this week, Korimako (such a beautiful name) the native Bellbird has been in and around my garden with its glorious clear, sweet bell-like song. A neighbour has a large Bottle brush tree which is currently covered in red flowers containing nectar. Bellbirds are like Tuis and love nectar. Their beak is shaped to drink the nectar from the neck of the flowers. So the Bellbird has discovered an abundant site to enjoy breakfast and thrill me with its song.
Also during the week I have heard the Grey Warblers again. They have been quiet of late, presumably raising their young or those of the Shining Cuckoo. Last night I spotted a pair of Fantail flitting chirpily around the garden. Their return indicates that autumn is here and they will be around until spring when they move elsewhere.
I’ve heard Tui song from time to time but I am expecting them back in numbers soon if my blog records continue to predict this event.
When I was growing up the sight and sounds of our native birds was generally something reserved for museums and exhibitions where we could view stuffed birds and listen to audio of their song.
To hear and see an increasing range of native birds in my garden is such a joy and so uplifting in the face of indifferent news.
And the final part of last night’s sunset is worth sharing too:-)
I took my camera outside this morning to capture some spring photos.
The flowering cherry tree is in our garden.
Just over the fence in the neighbouring reserve is the kowhai tree that is being visited constantly by Tuis at the moment…..can you spot one feeding on the nectar?
And this afternoon, way off in the distance, amid road noise, other bird song, and the voices of children I heard the Shining Cuckoo. My guess is the Cuckoo is up at the end of our street in a larger, more secluded, wooded reserve. It has been a few weeks since I heard the first Shining Cuckoo of the season but the one today near my home is right on schedule!!!
Today is one of those breath-takingly beautiful days we get here in Wellington which remind us of just how lovely this often wind-blown, cloudy and cool location can be.
I loaded the car boot up with unwanted items and headed to our local recycling depot in Porirua called Trash Palace.
As I was getting back in my car I was startled to hear the song of a Shining Cuckoo. I had been thinking about this bird a lot over the past week as I had heard more Grey Warblers singing again around my home. If my memory serves me correctly it usually a little later in the season when I hear the Shining Cuckoos near here.
However I found the following article and note that September is often the time for the Cuckoos to return to NZ from their wintering over in Pacific Islands. This link also features an audio of the lovely song of the Shining Cuckoo as well as lots of new information about its habits, its preferred foods and the remarkable job it does keeping our lovely kowhai trees in excellent health.
Nature brings balance through symbiosis and I have a greater appreciation now of the Shining Cuckoo and its welcome, unique song.