Juvenile gallah under attack

20 posts / 0 new
Last post
dicutting10
dicutting10's picture
Juvenile gallah under attack

Hi everyone

Today I was having my usual walk around the neighbourhood with my camera when I heard a baby gallah squawking, nothing unusual in this as we still have some young being feed by the parent bird.  But this was more than that.  I looked up to see the baby gallah hanging upside down from a dead tree fork and he was surrounded by crows and currawongs.  The poor little guy was caught in the fork by one of his feet and was screaming in panic and trying to get himself out.  The more he tried obviously it was making him stuck even more,  There was nothing I could do as it was very high up the dead tree.  The scene was horrific as well as compelling as I was willing him to get away, every now and again I thought he had made it but to no avail,  At one stage 2 parent birds come along and one tried to help him escape while the other tried to get the crows away.  After a few moments the parent birds just flew away and left the poor litle guy to the horror of the crows,  It lasted for quite a while and have to say I kept filming but had to leave when two crows had hold of a wing each and were tugging him,  I really thought they would tear him in half.  Nature is so cruel.  We have a ;picture in our minds that birds are lovely little creatures, but then you see the dark side of nature and it is very hard.  I went back an hour later and the little guy was dead but the crows were still trying to get his body out of the fork.  Later again I went back and there was not much left but he is still hanging there.

I have attached a couple of photos if you care to look, will understand if you don't but guess that is nature.

Diane - Canberra

dwatsonbb
dwatsonbb's picture

Hi Diane, a great series of pics aboout a poor baby Galah. This highlights the every day occurence with mother nature. All our natives must survive, and to prey on others is usually the way. Thanks for sharing, and may I say you have been lucky to see this occur, albeit a distressing experience.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

dicutting10
dicutting10's picture

Thanks for the comment.  I have a whole series of these photos, the ones I posted are not too graphic but wondered what to do with them.  Don't know if Birds Australia would be interested for their magazine or dare I mention National Geographic, because I am sure this happens most days somewhere and we are not aware of the behaviour of our birds. I actually photographed a few months ago a red wattle bird capturing a small bird and eating it which is supposedly not right as they are honey eaters etc.  Also photographed a currawong sneaking up on a baby gallah a few weeks back which comes to mind as the currawongs were in on this latest kill as well.

Cheers Diane Canberra

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Like Dale, I like the photos, that's how nature works. Birds can't just dash down to the supermarket.

Now this is very interesting, some weeks or so ago I was harshly criticised ( on this forum) for saying, that all the baby wrens were eaten by the red wattlebirds. And if I hadn't seen them do it that wasn't happening. And it wasn't something they would do

 I knew the only birds constantly hanging around the wren's nest , were wattlebirds.

I would love to see a photo of the wattlebird eating a little bird. I also hope the person that said I was wrong in thinking they would do that, is reading your post.

Thanks so much Diane for confirming what I suspected.

M-L

dicutting10
dicutting10's picture

hi dale and Araminta

After a lot of research and speaking to CSIRO wildlife dept they put me onto Birdlife Aust I sent a number of photos to them with my observations and I had to chase them up to get some reply, they thought it was probably a mistake but I was not impressed they said they were going to get a couple of other people to look at the photos but to date I have not heard anything. The photos were not  wonderful copy but my husband suggested that I do not tamper with them to prove authenticity.  So I agree with both of you that wattle birds are a particularly vicious bird.  I will post a couple of the photos in question but I am just on my way to bowling.  But having said that it is definitely a small bird he has captured, a small yellow bird.

 Cheers Diane

Woko
Woko's picture

That's an interesting perspective on gathering bird information, Shirley.

I agree that our collective information about birds is valuable & perhaps could be tapped more often than it is. But I think we need to keep in mind that our information is, generally, anecdotal or not gathered in a scientific way and for it to be scientifically useful it would need to have been gathered or collated within a consistent framework. To do otherwise would leave the conclusions reached open to criticism & could do more harm than good. That said, there is no doubt in my mind that the experience we non-experts have can point the experts in clear directions about what needs further scientific investigation. Given the resources & the political will there is no reason why experts & non-experts can't work together for the benefit of birds &, by extension, wildlife & habitats generally.

There are projects to which bird watchers have made valuable contributions such as The Atlas of Australian Birds & annual wader counts  I've been involved in both plus assisted with research into New Holland Honeyeater pollination of Scarlet Bottlebrush Callistemon rugulosus & bird damage apricot production. So the kind of cooperation I'm talking about has already happened.

I suppose I'm wondering if at some stage your own experience has been poo pooed by a so-called expert or experts & this is what has caused you to raise this issue. If your raising it leads to our collective information, knowledge & experience being used for the conservation of birds then that's all to the good in my opinion.

Araminta
Araminta's picture

shirley.hardy wrote:

Two parting questions for Araminta and dicutting10 :

In your honest opinion, going on all the environmental changes that has been happening over the years, and the drought, what do you think has driven Wattlebirds to become carnivores?

What changes, if any, have you noticed in your area that might have caused this to happen?

I can only talk about the last 19 years I have lived in this area. The conditions where I live, are what you would call ideal for birds. I am surrounded by State Park and State Forrest on two sides and 120 acres of untouched property on the other side. The wildlife walking in and out includes countless native animals like: Kangaroos, Wallabies, Wombats, Goannas, echidnas and Snakes. I have Powerful Owls, Barking Owls, Barn Owls and Boobooks. The other birds that come and go, nest and breed, are far too numerous to list. So, if you will , you can take my observations as an example to prove the point that even without environmental pressures the Wattlebirds I have observed over a period of some years , have been very aggressive towards smaller birds, and I have also seen them take little birds from nests. (the only reason I haven’t talked about it again was, that a few people told me that wasn’t possible, and they needed proof. As I don’t have evidence other than having seen it, I didn’t insist on it.) So if others now can show photographic evidence, I would feel much better . But for now, and to answer the question, in my situation I can’t say that environmental pressure contributes to Wattlebirds turning carnivorous .

M-L

dicutting10
dicutting10's picture

Hi Everyone

There certainly are a nunber of issues raised here.  I am a newcomer to the bird world but I agree that we in BIB are the ones observing the day to life of our birds, I will post some of the photos re the wattle bird capturing another small bird but warn you that they are not very clear as my lens has packed it in and I have a new one on order.  But the fact is that the wattle birds are particularly frightening to the little birds, and they fly into trees with such force and the little ones just scatter.  I am out most days photographing and observing and my observations are confusing.  I cannot find anything in the literature,google etc regarding the Crimson rosellas, during last winter here in my suburb of Canberra they were plentiful, during the spring they all disappeared and then late in December the juveniles started to arrive.  Now each group of 4-6 was accompanief by one senior/parent bird who seemed to stay with the young ones for a few days to a week, feeding then and showing them how to feed on their own.  Then another group would arrive and same thing.  Now I have observed that the senior birds (full colour) are slowly coming back to the neighbourhood. So is this normal for the crimson rosellas?  Sorry getting back to the wattle birds, I don't know what the answer to their behaviour, but CSIRO did not have a clue and all the literature say that they are honey eaters etc. and as I said Bird Life Australia did not seem very interested in my observations.  I am very keen to learn what I can about the birds in our backyards as I find them all fascinating.

Cheers Diane -Canberra

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Thanks so much again Diane, this is the proof that Wattlebirds catch, kill and eat other small birds. Those photo are great as they capture the unfolding event. Now I have no doubt that what I saw was indeed the Wattlebird at my place taking the young Wrens out of the nest, before the Kookaburra got to them. It's something I have seen the Kookaburra doing a few times. Could it be a learned behaviour by the Wattlebird?

I can't answer your question regarding the Crimson Rosellas, I have so many of them all year round. They walk around my messy garden munching on seeds and weeds at all times of the year.They hang around the horse feeder to eat what the horse spills and they come to have drinks from the horse bath. We have put sticks in the water for them to walk down to reach the water and not drown.At the moment there are also many juveniles, some are still very green, but others have almost changed into their adult plumage. To cut a long story short, they do not leave my place.

Good luck with your observations.

M-L

dicutting10
dicutting10's picture

Hi M-L

Your place sounds like bird heaven, no wonder you have such great photos.  I have to do battle almost daily with the "nutters" in our neighbourhood, to get my photos.  I was accosted again this morning, here I was thinking it is Good Friday every one will be sleeping in, when I was accosted by a creep in a 4WD, I am always worried they will grab my camera from me.  Anyhow my family of blue wrens visited my backyard several times today so I had my fill of photos at home.  They are so cute to watch and one of the 3 babies (they seemed to be on their own today no sign of the parent birds) is getting the blue plumage. Pleased you found the wattle bird photos OK, I have to say that there is plenty of feed here for them and at the moment they are gorging on the seed pods of a giant cactus across the road from us, they are so intent on feeding that I can get up within a couple of feet of them, so some great pictures.

Cheers Diane

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Here is one of my Rosellas, and what they do all day long, walk and munch on weedswink

M-L

Woko
Woko's picture

Red wattlebirds aren't entirely nectivorous (or nectarivorous, depending on which side of the tracks your school was on) & it's well known they eat spiders & insects. The fact that they are taking small birds might be related to extremely dry conditions where insect populations & nectar supplies are significantly lower than normal.

Another hypothesis might be that there's been an increase in the population of small birds & they've become easier to catch than before.

Generally, birds will use the food that costs them the least energy to obtain & I would think that taking nectar & insects would normally be cost-effective for red wattlebirds in terms of energy use. Hence, unless conditions prevent normal supplies of insects & nectar, it would be unusual to see a red wattlebird take a small bird for food. None of the field guides I checked refer to red wattlebirds taking small birds although Wikipedia mentions that they take "small creatures".

So, Shirley, Di & Araminta, your observations of red wattlebirds taking small birds add to the body of knowledge about this species. The conditions under which it does so or whether it's simply a random, advantageous behaviour are yet to be determined it seems.  

Araminta
Araminta's picture

dicutting10 wrote:

  Anyhow my family of blue wrens visited my backyard several times today so I had my fill of photos at home.  They are so cute to watch and one of the 3 babies (they seemed to be on their own today no sign of the parent birds) is getting the blue plumage.

I would be very surprised if any male would change into blue plumage right now? (but as someone used to always say, I stand to be corrected blush

Unless things are different where you live? At my place the breeding season is well and truely over, all the male Superb Fairy-wrens have changed back into their non breeding colours, only the blue tail and a bit of a blue sparcle around the eyes are left. They change back in reverse out of the breeding plumage looking the same as when they went into it. If that makes sense ?

I post a photo of the last stage one of my males was in 2 weeks ago, all of them are in winter plumage now at my place.

M-L

dicutting10
dicutting10's picture

Hi

Thanks for that advice so what I actually had in my backyard yesterday was the original mum and dad and dad's colour has chaged.  I am on huge learning curve about birds and loving it - thanks for that - brilliant photo by the way

Cheers Diane

di.anneslegacy
di.anneslegacy's picture

M-L

Received message but having trouble with my computer and cannot reply, could you resend to this email address.

Thanks

Diane

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Don't think it's your computer, I'm having trouble posting photos here at the moment. Will try sending you message again.

M-L

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Don't think it's your computer, I'm having trouble posting photos here at the moment. Will try sending you message again.

M-L

aussiedavid
aussiedavid's picture

I find this a very profound thread.

As a photographer I can assure you that ANY behaviour that can be recorded should be recorded.

I had reached a point were if I could not make a profit from taking a photograph I would not even take a camera out of my bag!!

Birds coming into our back yard changed that philosophy for me big time. It made me realize once more that a photograph is a permanent record of time and events and MUST be recorded. The good the bad and the ugly are all worthy of remembrance and being save for future generations. Things are constantly changing around us, photographers have a duty to record these changes.

Just my 2cents worth. ad

 (anyone else finding the return key not working??)

dicutting10
dicutting10's picture

Hi Shirley

After much thought I have decided to reply to your last post regarding the wattle bird.  You are entitled to your opinion.  But I was there and documented what I saw with photgraphs and it was definitely not a butterfly (we don't have yellow butterflies around here with legs like a bird) so in my judgement it was a small yellow bird.

Diane

aussiedavid
aussiedavid's picture

Di would you be willing to email me a copy of #1 & 2 as from camera just crop to bird so I can try upscaling, feel free to watermark them if you wish?? ad

 and @UrbanBirdsOz  @birdsinbackyards
                 Subscribe to me on YouTube