The spring is sprung, the grass is ris, I wonder where the birdie is?
Often at this time of year, the birdie is in some sort of conflict. In the past week I’ve seen two currawongs attacking a third one they had cornered in a neighbour’s garden, and a magpie angrily pursuing a raven. In neither case did I have a camera handy. However I was able to photograph a spat in the Noosa Spit Reserve, between a Little Wattlebird and a Blue-faced Honeyeater. It was a typical clash over feeding rights to a banksia tree between two members of the honeyeater family. This was an early moment:
The wattlebird flew past the honeyeater and landed on a branch behind.
The honeyeater ignored the wattlebird. The next bit was so unexpected, I didn’t catch it on camera –the wattlebird quietly stretched over and pulled the honeyeater’s tail feathers. The honeyeater turned with rising hackles, and a “What did you just do?” look, at this breach of avian etiquette.
There was a brief chase around the tree:
Then, satisfied it had shooed the wattlebird away, the honeyeater settled down to investigate an old banksia cone. But the wattlebird was still feeling proprietorial about the banksia, and soon returned:
The honeyeater turned in response as the wattlebird closed in:
Then there was a short truce as something—I didn’t see what—distracted both birds:
The honeyeater then moved to a fresh banksia flower, and the dispute was on again as the wattlebird followed it. First, it delivered a peck at the honeyeater’s right side:
… but was rapidly foiled:
… so it switched to the honeyeater’s left side:
…. but was repulsed again:
By this time, the honeyeater had had enough, and chased the wattlebird off before returning to its flower:
These two birds were typically pugnacious members of the honeyeater family. Here, the blue-faced had the edge because it was the bigger bird, but the wattlebird seemed to me to be the instigator of the conflict. Perhaps the wattlebird placed a higher value on the banksia because it was its favourite food source, whereas blue-faced honeyeaters feed in a wide variety of trees.
A little later, the wattlebird was able to return to its banksia as the honeyeater had flown off to join its mate in servicing a juvenile honeyeater. But that’s a story for another day.