Re: birding-aus Nestsite selection behaviour in Willie-Wagtails?

To: "Chris Hudson" <>, "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Re: birding-aus Nestsite selection behaviour in Willie-Wagtails?
From: "Jim Davis" <>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2000 09:14:48 -0800

I am not sure how unusual the WW behaviour is, but your observations are
certainly very interesting.  I offer the following comments/interpretations:

1)  the "squatting" could have been displacement behaviour, but if so I
can't see why the bird would "squat" as oppose to some more random response.

2)  the "squatting" could have been a mild-form of a distraction display.
If you could see the bird, it probably could see you, and other birds around
it were emitting alarm calls, etc.   That is, the bird had reason to be
defensive.   Willie-Wagtails are know to make multiple nests which some
people believe are used to distract potential predators (there are other
reasons proposed as well).

3) the bird was looking for a potential nest site.  WW are know to nest near
Magpie Larks.

Do any of these explanations fit the facts?

Cheers, Jim

Dr Wm. James Davis, Editor
Interpretive Birding Bulletin

> After a couple of minutes I obviously was considered to no
> longer be a threat, as one of the birds (possibly the female) then
> fluffed up its breast feathers and proceeded to move along various
> branches "squatting" every so often for no more than about 1-2 seconds
> at each point before moving on.  All up, in the couple of minutes that I
> saw this behaviour, I estimated that about 50-60 different spots were
> tested including the top links of a chainlink fence!
> Am I correct in believing that the bird was checking each spot as a
> possible nest site?  Has anyone seen similar behaviour in Willie
> Wagtails or other birds.
> Seen nearby were another pair of Willie Wagtails with a nest containing
> at least one young. This nest was about 30 metres away from where I had
> seen the previous pair of wagtails.  It was close enough that I could
> still see the other pair of wagtails, while watching this pair feeding
> their young.
> Also observed was a juvenile Olive-Backed Oriole being almost force-fed
> what appeared to be a very large caterpillar by its parent.  The young
> bird seemed to have all sorts of trouble getting the proferred food
> down, but eventually managed it.
> Cheers,
> ==========================================================
> Chris Hudson
> Canberra, Australia
> "There is more to life than increasing its speed" - Mahatma Ghandhi
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