This is going to be a fairly long posting - please
bear with me. The story relates to Central Western NSW.
Background: In 2000 I had a series of 'bird chat'
episodes on regional ABC radio. We did two batches of these episodes, one for
Autumn and one for Spring/Summer - each batch being a weekly episode for 12
weeks. The station management is happy with the concept because of the high
numbers of listeners responding, and saying that they listen in just for that
'spot'. I am happy with the concept because I believe this is something concrete
we can do to encourage an interest in birds throughout the community. Hopefully,
it will lead to practical things like retention or replacement of habitat.
Getting a dose of quirky birdlore once a week for half a year has to have some
Today: This morning a property owner, Bonnie,
rang me to say that she had been watching Mistletoebirds breeding in a
tree close by her house. She and her husband became interested in their local
birds through the radio spots, and as the Mistletoebird was the last one of the
series, they were still thinking Mistletoebirds.
Many of you will know that Dubbo was hit by a
savage storm last Saturday. Bonnie's place is east of Dubbo and received
the edge of that storm. She watched through the window as the
Mistletoebird's nest swung madly in the wind and rain and hail - eventually, the
nest fell to the ground. Bonnie and her husband ran outside and could see
two downy chicks in the nest, hail falling heavily by then.
They picked the nest up carefully and carried it
inside. Bonnie's husband got a shoelace and tied it around the top of the nest
and suspended it from a chair back till the storm passed. They then took
it outside and tied it to the branch it had fallen from. Mum Mistletobird
sat on the branch watching, and was at the nest before Bonnie was back in her
Next day, another storm hit. The nest,
already damaged, was falling apart. Bonnie found an old stocking and cut it to
make a sort of sling - then, with needle and thread, went out (in the rain!) and
sewed the stocking to the nest. Inside the nest the chicks sat comfy, and
Mum Mistletoebird watched from another part of the same tree. Bonnie
reckons she was saying "Come on, get the nest fixed so I can feed the
kids." Once again, the chicks were attended to soon after Bonnie and
husband went back to their house.
This story ends happily. The nest is still intact
and the chicks are being fed by ?both parents. Their chirps are getting louder,
so Bonnie is happy too.
The Point Of It All: 1] I wanted to share
with you the depth of commitment those people showed to caring for the
Mistletoebirds and their young. They feel well rewarded for their trouble simply
because they have come to care for the birds.
2] I want to urge you to do what you can to show non-birders that our birds are
beautiful fun, lovable, and IN NEED OF OUR PROTECTION. A lot of folk out there
would love to know more about birds, and would also develop a commitment to
their care with a bit of encouragement from us. The future of so many of our
birds is at stake.
I receive a lot of very positive feedback from the
radio spots. Sometime, when you've recovered from this, I'll tell you
about the family in the mining town of Lightning Ridge who won't mine their opal
lease at the moment because the Rainbow Bee-eaters are nesting in the generator
that runs their drilling equipment. The lease is called Bee-eater's
Judie Peet, Dubbo NSW (The only thing for
certain in birdwatching is that nothing's certain.)