Second Chance in the Back Yard
Taken from ’The Drongo’ No 94, January 2008
We watched a pair of White-gaped Honeyeaters at their nest, a deep cup of fine grasses and bark strips, bound with cobwebs, and suspended by the rim in a high fork of the “Christmas Myrtle” in our backyard garden.
One chick was hatched. Both parents would actively and noisily feed it. They would bring insects, bugs and spiders that they gathered under the canopy of the trees, from the twigs and foliage of our and our neighbours’ gardens. This feeding went on non-stop during the day and the young one grew very quickly. The parents would also inspect the state of the nest at every feeding visit and they would also remove the chick’s faecal sacs and carry them far away, leaving a very clean, tidy and unadvertised nest. When any other birds strayed too close to the nest, the parents would defend with aggression. They would both call noisily and chase the offenders out of “their” tree.
On our return from our last weekend bush camping, we were saddened to see that the nest had been upturned and almost completely destroyed (most probably by one of those suspicious Spangled Drongos who think they own the place). There was no chick to be seen. Later however, while looking around the garden, we heard a distinct chirping/peeping sound coming from down low. This led us to the partly feathered chick, almost hidden completely on the ground under the fallen Myrtle leaves. The parents reacted madly as Len gently picked the poor little thing up and placed it back up in the closest and most protective tree. The parents then immediately started to feed it at its new perch, where it remained for the next 2 days.
Nights were a bit of a concern though… We have a Brush-tailed Possum, a few Tree Snakes and the odd barking Owl and Southern Boobook that frequent our garden. Today we found the chick had wisely moved much higher into the more dense vegetation and was quite active, well feathered and quite mobile. With the help of such wonderful parents, this time shooing off a big black male Common Koel, the White-gaped Honeyeater chick appears to have flown the coop to live another day.
Chris and Len Ezzy