Re: Firetail displays

To: (Birding Aus)
Subject: Re: Firetail displays
From: Paul Taylor <>
Date: Mon, 26 May 1997 10:00:15 +1000 (EST)
> Hello Birding-aus viewers,
>       Like Richard, I too have observed this behaviour by Fire 
> tails but it was Beautiful Firetails @ Melaleuca in far sw 
> Tasmania during Orange-bellied Parrot volunteer work.  The 
> behaviour Richard describes was similar in most respects except 
> the male bird held an enormous length of grass stem while 
> 'bouncing' up and down on a branch attached to the OBP feed table. 
> The bird was singing at the same time and managed this with its 
> beak closed (so it didn't drop the grass?).  No other bird was 
> visually present to us at the time but often a female would fly up 
> to the branch and immediately the male would lift his tail and 
> drop his head so as to display his superb red rump to the female. 
> In two weeks of observing this behaviour in 1994, only once did we 
> see the male 'succeed', with an interested female flying off 
> behind him when they departed the table.  I haven't checked 
> whether this is typical display behaviour by Firetails but it is 
> interesting to note birds at different ends of the country acting 
> in a similar way. 

I have seen this grass stem display with Diamond Firetails in Canberra;
the sight of a Diamond Firetail with a 1-1.5 foot grass stem in its beak
is quite impressive.  From memory, the text section in the back of
the Simpson & Day field guides describes the behaviour, and I think has
a picture.

   Paul Taylor

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