Breeding? What breeding?

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Woko
Woko's picture
Breeding? What breeding?

We're charging into spring but so far I've seen only one breeding event, that of a pair of Little Ravens in a Monterey Pine Pinus radiata, one of several I've retained for the time being as habitat for Yellow-tailed Cockatoos. It's been really cold for several months but we have four days of 24 deg forecast. I'm wondering if warmer temperatures will see the birds swing into gear.

rawshorty
rawshorty's picture

There are plenty of birds nesting here in Canberra, Woko.

Just to mention a few, Long billed, little Corrella and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Flame Robin, Thornbills, Speckled Warbler and well the list goes on and on. Maybe you are just not sighting it?

Shorty......Canon gear

Canberra

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Woko
Woko's picture

Here's my thinking, shorty. The abnormally cold weather has seen a reduction in insect breeding. Many bird species depend on insects to feed their young so the parent birds are awaiting the build up in insect populations before they begin their breeding. Today is sunny & yesterday I saw a New Holland Honeyeater with nesting material in its bill. I suspect in knew something was in the wind! 

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

Welcome to my world, Woko. Spring has sprung and the resident Magpies did have a baby but not much else has bred yet. The Masked Lapwings tried breeding and it failed - that's 3 years in a row they haven't bred (only because all the adults up and left town leaving all the kiddies behind). Eastern Rosellas tried breeding but that was a flop. Now, as a neighbour told me the other day, the resident White-plumed Honeyeater (that didn't have a mate for 3 years), is now flying away with nesting material. I believe the Red Wattlebird may be nesting as it infrequently visits my garden and I don't hear it's call in the area much during the most part of the day. Nothing else is breeding that I can tell. Mind you, there's not much else around now. Even the sparrows seem to have gone elsewhere. 

I put it all down to a lack of food. You're right about the insect breeding and the cold weather. Also, rain is needed for the insects to eat so they can breed. If the rain levels drop then the insect levels drop because the insects don't have enough to eat (whatever the heck they eat) therefore don't have enough energy to breed, or breed in smaller amounts. Usually cooler weather keeps insects from being more active so the birds have to wait that bit longer to breed. Its all about timing. Less rain means less plants will reproduce and grow, which means less insects will reproduce, which means less birds will reproduce. The climate affects the entire food chain in one fell swoop and if it is a bad year it will prevent many bird species from successfully breeding. 

Just remember one thing, Woko, the less it rains the less quality of food there is. Good quality food is important and a necessity in raising offspring. That applies to all creatures on Earth, including us humans.

Ask yourself this, Woko. Why are birds successfully breeding in Canberra where rawshorty is, yet it's slowly happening where you live in SA? Rule out of the equation these factors: location; altitude; the differences in plant life; availability of water on the ground (creeks, streams, rivers, dams, etc); as well as nesting sites. Think of everything else, as when it comes to birds, they are all pretty much the same when it comes to breeding. So think like a bird. Now what's your answer?

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Woko
Woko's picture

Being a human it's impossible for me to think like a bird even if I knew what a bird thinks. Which I don't. I suspect not a lot of thinking goes on in birds anyway. They're probably more into instinctive behaviour. 

In trying to answering your question I'm not sure why I would rule out factors like plant differences & water. Also, it seems to me there are huge variations among bird species in their breeding behaviours. So I'm not sure what you're getting at here. Can you clarify?

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

Sorry about that, Woko, I was tired when I wrote that last comment. What I was trying to say was, birds need a consistant and regular amount of food that is abundant in order to feed their offspring. Birds seem to time their breeding to the availability of food in abundance. That "window of opportunity" is not lasting either, so it has to be timed perfectly. The warmer weather usually allows insects to become abundant and breed but at the same time if unusual (to us humans) warmer weather occurs much earlier than normal, it will ultimately affect the breeding/life cycle of insects and animals alike. Birds beginning to breed in these unusual seasons will either delay or begin breeding earlier than normal. Rain is the life of everything and holds the cycles of life together, for without rain not much exists or breeds (except in deserts, etc). Birds adapt to rain or no rain regardless or simply move on from that climate but if unusual warmer weather happens before it is supposed to, expect the worst case scenario for the birds.

Over time (since 2001) I've witnessed the weather patterns change here in Tenterfield and witnessed the rainfall reduce to about a 1/3 of what fell beforehand. Since 2001 the weather has not only been getting hotter but the rain mostly goes around us. I've seen entire species leave this place never to return including a new species I've yet to identify that probably hasn't been scientifically discovered yet. I've seen floods begin to happen, algae bloom, drastic changes in the creek and even deaths of some healthy gum trees. I've watched the seasons change to actually begin a month earlier, and now in 2015, birds' breeding cyles are beginning to alter - they're breeding a whole month earlier when they know the weather is cooler despite the lack of abundance of food. As a result of that, the parent birds are becoming more aggressive than normal toward their offspring. Birds, in general, are becoming more desperate to find better areas where the rainfall is higher. Because of all of this there will be times, when birds start breeding before they change their breeding cycle, their eggs will get fried from the heat. Some birds are smarter than others and simply leave sooner. But eventually all the birds will leave and there's nothing we can do about it. 

The worse case scenario to all of this is when you do see birds flying about their numbers will always be less than what there was before, and the population of those species will contain mostly older birds. Birds will struggle to reproduce successfully but struggle and try and try again they will continue to do so. 

The weather here is becoming more like South Australian weather by each passing year, except for the hot northerly winds. And I've seen the Earth do some pretty bazaar things too, with constellations shifting way out of place for several days then correcting itself. I've seen the moon numerous times pause in it's orbit for 2 hours straight then set way too south. I've seen the sun rise and shadows being cast of trees that are now out of wack for this time of the year, over 10 or more years I've watched these changes. Seems the sunrise is out of wack and the orbit of the sun and moon is more north than what it used to be. And the, whatever the heck you call it, direction of the sun rising each season is becoming more reduced. Instead of the sun being to the south east in summer when it rises it is now mostly bordering the south-east/due east position. It never rises any further south than that in mid summer. 

Whatever is happening to the Earth has caused a climate change making more northerly postions below the equator hotter and more southerly positions cooler, or in the process of making it cooler; hence Tenterfield's climate becoming more South Australian like. We rant on about climate change and how the experts reckon it's our (humans') fault. Maybe it is but we have no control over making the Earth spin or tilt or orbit around the sun. There are just some things that are out of our control and what the Earth is doing now is one of those things, and I highly doubt us humans caused it. 

If your climate is beginning to alter, take note. Changes on a bigger scale will ensue, not only to the climate but plant and animal life too.

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

zoidberg
zoidberg's picture

I'm in southern Tassie and the Masked Lapwings have a nest with two eggs. By the way, is it normal for the parents to only sit on the eggs at night?

I saw a Forest Raven collecting nesting material a couple of weeks ago.

Lots of calling from Golden Whistlers and lots of chasing other small birds by Flame Robins but no idea if nesting yet.

Superb Fairy Wrens hanging around as a pair so not on a nest yet but thinking about it.

Grey Currawong hanging around thought I heard a baby call but not sure.

Black Headed Honeyeater saw one feeding another one. Would they have fledged a baby already or is that some pair bonding thing?

Woko
Woko's picture

Saw a male Wood Duck with 4 youngsters near my neighbour's dam a few days ago. But still no sign of breeding from our most prolific breeder the New Holland Honeyeater. No sign of Magpies breeding either. But lizards are appearing so tucker is available for some bird species. 

HelloBirdy
HelloBirdy's picture

Plenty of breeding in Canberra- Have seen red-rumped parrots, rainbow lorikeets, crimson and eastern rosellas, sulphur-crested cockatoos, magpie-larks, indian mynas, white-winged choughs, and magpies nesting, just to name a few. Have also encountered a family of Pacific black ducks with 6 (?) young and a single wood duck family with 24 young

Ryu
Canberra
Aiming for DSLR-quality shots with a bridge camera

Woko
Woko's picture

Today I saw a Yellow-rumped Thornbill carting food into fairly thick Eucalyptus foliage. I'll take a gander tomorrow with my binoculars at a distance to see if that's where the nest is. As exciting as it might be I'm reluctant to get up close & personal with nests at nesting time for fear of disturbance & nest abandonment.

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