"Reg Clark" <>
Wed, 10 Jun 1998 18:21:39 +1000
In April 98 while on a birding visit to the NW of New South Wales abt. 60km
W of Moree, I saw two Little Falcons (Falco longipennis) engaged in what
appeared to be cooperative activity.
We were counting species in an area on the Gwydir River, the bank here was
lined with River Redgums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)and were standing in a
cleared area abt 70 or 80m wide . The surrounding trees were abt 30m tall
with a sparse understorey of scrub
and young tree growth.
We, my two fellow birdoes and myself, were admiring a small charm of
Plum-headed Finches (Neochmia modesta), when the many Noisy Miners
(Manorina melanocephala) in the gums upstream began to shriek hysterically.
Through the trees at a height of abt 15m appeared a Little Falcon. The many
birds in the trees and bushes either froze or broke cover and dashed across
the clearing ahead of the approaching falcon.
At this moment another Little Falcon came into view above the treetops. As
it reached the edge of the trees it reconfigured its wingshape and dived
almost vertically at amazing speed upon the fleeing honeyeaters in the
open. Without taking a bird it zoomed up like a rocket to just clear the
trees on the far side.This bird was then joined by the other no kill having
been made by either falcon.This struck us as rather odd at the time as the
frantic birds seemed to be an easy target for either of the raptors.
It was sometime before things settled down, this applied to both the
birdoes and the birds , then, to our astonishment, the Noisy Miners erupted
and the action was repeated , this time from a slightly different dtrection
with the same result .
The question I would like to ask is were these falcons honeing their
skills.playing or just inept killers?
During the confusion caused by the second attack an enterprising Pied
Butcherbird (Cracticus nigrogularis) killed a bird and was itself attacked
by other Pied Butcherbirds and robbed of its victim as it tried to wedge it
into a forked twig.
Through all the avian uproar that accompanied these incidents . the
Plum-headed Finches crouched in their bush utterly still!
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