Honeyeaters Nesting - Part 5

Subject: Honeyeaters Nesting - Part 5
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 1997 13:35:53 +0800

The final instalment of the continuing adventure of a young Grey-fronted
Honeyeater and its parents.  It has fledged!!

Day 25 Friday 12th December 1997 (No longer tucked in at night!)

The activity was very similar to the previous day.  One adult continued to
sit on the nest for short periods especially in the morning and the later
afternoon after it became very windy at 15:30.  Most feeding was done by
the other bird.  They continued to chase the Yellow-throated Miners and a
ta-ta lizard (Gilbert's Dragon) that was on the trunk of the tree.  The
nestling was begging a few times while both birds were away.  The adult no
longer sits on the nest overnight.

Day 26 Saturday 13th December 1997 to Day 27 Sunday 14th December 1997
(Becoming more alert)

The adult only sat on the nest a few times although it spent quite a bit of
time very close to the nest.  The other bird continued to do most of the
feeding.  At one point I approached the nest and one bird flew in quietly
and sat on a small branch about 1 metre away and looked at me.  The wind
picked up on the Saturday at 14:15 but the adult did not sit on the nest.
The nestling several times during the day had its mouth wide open while the
two adults were away.

Day 28 Monday 15th December 1997 (More rain)

The main events were two short periods of rain.  The first period at about
13:40 lasted about 25 minutes and produced 5mm.  As the rain started the
adult arrived and sat on the nest until the rain stopped.  The adult sat on
the nest quite often for short periods between the two rain periods.  The
second period was preceded by strong winds about 16:50 that knocked a
branch of a nearby tree.  The heavy black clouds made it very dark.  The
honeyeaters have chosen their nest site very well as the nest doesn't move
around much even in the very strong winds.  The adult arrived and fed the
nestling shortly after the wind started and sat on the nest until shortly
after the light rain started at 17:00 when the wind had dropped.  They
continued to chase the Yellow-throated Miners plus a Magpie Lark that was
feeding on the path about 4 metres away.  A couple of the Yellow-throated
Miners were missing tail feathers but they could have been moulting.  A
Great Bowerbird came into a tree about 5 metres away but the
Yellow-throated Miners chased it off.

Day 29 Tuesday 16th December 1997 (Feathers forming)

I was out of my office for a lot of the day so I didn't observe very much.
The nestling is now much bigger and the feathers are forming over most of
its body except for most of its neck.  It is a lot more active moving
around the nest and sticking its head up above the top of the nest.  A
large insect was given to the nestling but then taken back and eaten by the
parent.  When the adults feed the nestling they appear to wait for a short
time after and on the two occasions the nestling pointed its rear end up
and the adult removed a faecal sac and took it away.  The Yellow-throated
Miners were feeding a juvenile

Day 30 Wednesday 17th December 1997 (The brooding has finished)

There was a Common Tree Snake (Dendrephalis punctulata) on the ground about
10 metres from the nest.    One Grey-fronted Honeyeater was keeping an eye
on it from a branch about a metre above the ground.  The Environmental
section relocated the snake.  Both birds are now feeding the nestling and
the adult no longer sits on the nest.  Pale caterpillars about 3cm long are
now part of the diet.  When the adult finds one, it takes it to a branch
and knocks the caterpillar against the branch several times before flying
to the nest and feeding the nestling.

Day 31 Thursday 18th December 1997 (Nestling very active and preening)

Both adults continue to feed the nestling with caterpillars being a regular
food item.  Pale downy feathers are now forming all over the body and
colour is starting to appear on the back and crown.  The nestling is very
active now and is regularly preening

Day 32 Friday 19th December 1997 (Gardeners)

Both adults continue to feed the nestling with caterpillars being a regular
food item, although on one occasion the adult ate the caterpillar and then
appeared to clean its bill on a leaf and against the branch that it was
perched on.  The adult then preened losing at least one body feather.  One
adult was in a small shrub about 1 metre from my window and was using its
tongue to lick the stems.  I checked the shrub and could find nothing in
the way of insects or sticky substances.  The nestling continues to
regularly preen.  The gardeners slashed the grass and low vegetation and
heavily pruned the shrubs in the garden.

Day 33 Saturday 20th December 1997 (It exercised its wings)

The feathers are now well formed although the back and crown are grey/brown
with only a little of the yellow/green tinge of the adults.  The underparts
are a pale yellow similar to the adults although with less streaking
apparent.  There are still a few pale downy feathers.  The bill is shorter
fatter and more 'lumpy' than the adults and is yellow with a blackish spot
near the end.  The tail is almost non existent.  There is a small tree
about 5 metres from the nest that is infested with dark small (about 15mm)
thin caterpillars but I have not seen the honeyeaters in this tree.  I did
not see the adults until nearly 7:30 when they both fed the nestling.  The
nestling then stood on the edge of the nest and vigorously exercised its
wings while both adults were close by.  The nestling climbed on to a twig
about 5cm from the nest while flapping its wings before returning to the
nest and continuing to preen.  I noticed some droppings on the ground below
the nest for the first time.  It exercised its wings again at 8:55.  It
spent most of the day preening or sleeping.  At about 14:05 it looked like
a bittern sitting upright in the nest with its neck stretched up and its
eyes closed most of the time.  It remained like this for about 10 minutes.

Day 34 Sunday 21st December 1997 (It has fledged!)

It had left the nest by the time that I arrived at work at 6:00.  I quickly
located it on a branch in a shrub about 5 metres from the nest and about 1
metre above the ground.  There was a gentle breeze and it was slightly
unsteady.  The yellow green colour is evident at the end of the wings.  Its
face (mostly the lores) is black with no evidence of the black and yellow
plumes on the side of the neck.  At 7:30 it was still in the same bush but
about 1.5 metres above the ground.  I couldn't locate it at 11:30 although
I didn't spend much time.  The adults were chasing Yellow-throated Miners.
I found the fledgling again at 16:15 near the top (about 4 metres high) of
a thin acacia about 8 metres from the nest when an adult flew in to feed
it.  At 16:30 both adults were foraging in a tree about 3 metres from the
nestling.  The nestling flew over to join them when the two adults were

Day 35 Monday 22nd December 1997 (Flying and THE END)

It is now very hard to observe since it is not outside my window.  It was
seen in the same tree as the day before.  It is more active moving around
through the tree and still being fed by its parents.

Another Grey-fronted Honeyeater has entered the world.  May it live a long

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