Australian of young

Subject: Australian of young
From: Gail Hill <>
Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2001 19:55:17 +1000
>To: birding aus
>From: Gail Hill <>
>Subject: Australian of young
>I have been observing Australian darters( Anhinga melanogaster) and Little
Black cormorants ( Phalacrocorax sulcirostis} nesting at "the lakes" at
University of Qld.Brisbane. The nests are located on an island in the middle
of the lake, about 100 yards from the shore.
>The cormorants' young have not hatched, however on Friday 23rd March I
noted that the darters have young...pale camel coloured, 3 in all. When I
arrived at the site the adult darters were not at the nest so I thought that
as it was late in the afternoon they would return to feed their young...not
>Initially 1 adult flew in and perched just above the nest whereupon the
young stretched up vying for their nourishment. The second adult arrived
shortly after and perched on the side of the nest, young were fed. During
this time the second adult moved about on the edge of the I
watched one of the young which was clammering at the adult overbalanced and
fell out of the nest down into the water below, calling as it fell. It
managed to swim to the bank and started to climb up calling incessantly. I
had thought that 1 of the adults may come didn't happen. The next
thing a very large water monitor arrived at the bank and lunged at the caught the chick by the leg and wing .....the chick managed to
shake the lizard off on this ocassion....although it defied logic....I threw
rocks, yelled and jumped up and down trying to see the lizard
rocks fell about a 1/4 of the way to the scene..( I'm fairly small)
>The chick managed to get itself into the roots of the trees....a small
barrier to the monitor.The adults up in the tree continued to feed the 2
remaining chicks.
>Anyway I watched until the light faded,the chick remained mute and still
... whilst the monitor sat at a distance of 2yds from the chick it appeared
to be waiting its time....I feel sure that its girth would have expanded
sometime during the night. 
>When thinking about this observation I am struck by the fact that the adult
birds did not appear to notice the loss of the chick. I wonder, if, in fact
the fall may have had a more sinister aspect....was the chick pushed from
the nest by the adult. Do these birds practice infanticide?   
>I was also struck by the chicks behaviour following the attack by the
lizard...although very young adopted a freeze pose.   
>Interesting birding ...but I must admit that I felt somewhat flat when I
thought of the inevitable fate of the chick.
>I'd welcome any comments on this observation.
>ibb emailGail

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