The Predator doesn't always Win.

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: The Predator doesn't always Win.
From: Una Stephenson <>
Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 20:15:21 +1100
After today's sad tales about baby birds here's a happy one .... unless
you're a Drongo.  Extracts from letters to my daughters earlier this year:-

10/8/01:-Have been only vaguely aware of renewed Sunbird activity round the
back verandah till I carelessly walked out to collect the washing and came
nose to nose with a Very Angry Mrs. Sunbird! She was raging away this
morning, too, while I was in the shower.

They built the nest last year then deserted it, and when it eventually fell
down I tied it back up purely for a decoration ..... now Mrs. is sitting,
with only her long beak showing at the entrance.

11/08/01:-Part of the Sunbird problem is that Lolli took down the Craftroom
curtains and washed them. So Sunbird can see me at my sewing. I've put the
curtains back up, though that annoyed her, too, so I can use the room
without causing upset. And removed key from back door so I can't carelessly
go out and meet her nose to nose.   

Mr. Sunbird however is not in evidence.

It gets more intense ..... I've been trying not to upset the Sunbird all
day, but having put up the curtains I sat in the craftroom watching through
the screen door while doing my embroidery. Mr. Sunbird just doesn't seem to
be around anywhere .

Suddenly a big black bird flew to the nest - I yelled and rushed outside,
and the invader flew away; almost certainly the Black Butcherbird but might
have been a Drongo; Mrs. of course had flown so I checked the nest; there
are at least 2 eggs still intact. Clearly it won;t survive long without me
guarding it so I've hung an empty wire plant-basket so that it doesn't
obstruct Mrs.'s access - she can climb and hop on it - but it prevents a
dive-bomber from getting in. Alas, she's explored and found how to reach the
nest but has not settled back on it; she's been cheeping furiously from a
Bougainvillea branch and taking trips away over the fence.

Later:_ she wouldn't go back into the nest but hung around cheeping so madly
I had to remove the nest-protector, most unwillingly as I'll not be around
for the next few days to scare predators. She's back on the nest again.

[The Predator turned out to be Spangled Drongo.]

26/8:-Well, Guess Who showed up this afternoon, while I was busy dying some
fleece for a Vague Project? 

Mr. Sunbird! Not that he's doing anything useful but there he was, shouting
away on a twig while I was putting my dyed fleece on the drying rack. Mrs.
is as busy as ever. 

29/8:-Morning:-At Last - Mr. Sunbird shows up, at the nest. [And watching
the couple work over the next few days I had to apologise for calling him a
Useless Male!]

30/8/01:-Came home after 5pm; not a lot of action but eventually Mr.then
Mrs. showed up, did a lot of shouting, then fed the babies. So all is well -
but the interesting bit is still to happen, when they fly. I just hope
they're very good at it.

31/8/01:-THey were realy busy this morning and this evening Baby is off the
nest, down in the border beside the back verandah.  A tiny shivery little
thing but in adult colour already; I hope he /she can fly soon! Mum and Dad
are in attendance. And maybe I can sweep the verandah....

1/9/01:-I was most reluctant to leave for work as Drongo stayed around
obviously threatening, and Mr. Sunbird was going spare, shouting at it .....
eventually I replaced the empty wire plant basket like a partial cage round
the nest; Mr. Sunburd had no problem with it and hopped through to the nest
right away.    I left for work as late as I could and rushed back to find
nest still safe - and jumping about  at times! A big baby head emerges when
Mum or Dad flies in to feed them. Brought my notes home and did them while
sitting at the window watching.  Apart from a few hours at work I've spent
the day chasing off the Drongo and following little Sunbird round the garden
as he fails to learn to fly but scrambles around in the foliage. 

But the really impossible part of this story is true. I went to the kitchen
to make toast and 'Daddy' started to call very loudly and fluttered just
beyond the screen door; I went out, and there was the Drongo. I chucked a
handful of pebbles, and he went, but later when I was putting in my contact
lenses I heard a loud Drongo screech, rushed out and he was attacking the
baby. Drove him off again; baby was terrified, and hopped off ineptly at
ground level, so, reckoning I'm now one of the family, I picked him up, put
him in the lime tree, and carefully pointed him out to Mum and Dad. Later I
got the impression he'd mislaid himself as I couldn't find him at the old
spot and neither could Mum and Dad; I found him in a Silly Place on a low
fern frond, pointed him out to Mum, and moved him to relative safety in the
Callistemon tree. Where he has scrambled near to the top, flapping his wings
but never quite taking off. 

I've turned the garden hose on the bloody drongo 3 times now; I hope he's
got the message!

I hope he flies soon; I'll be out all day tomorrow.

At 5.45pm and almost dark, he has Gone. I can only hope he has Flown at last.

 On 2/9  I was out for most of the day till late afternoon. By then, Baby
Sunbird was well up a tree in the next garden but still flipping his wings
rather feebly and not flying; the Drongo was still around but not inclined
to stay when I showed up. By dusk, little Sunbird was even higher up a more
distant tree, still being fed; since then I've not seen them but I've been
at work till after 5 today.[4/9].

I saw no more of baby though a number of little adult males come back to
enjoy a shower-bath from the garden hose sometimes.


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