Monday, January 2, 2012

Another successful Grey Shrike-Thrush brood

Anyone who lives near bushland in Australia will probably know the musical call of the Grey Shrike-Thrush (Colluricincla harmonica). Some people think the soft-gray plumage of these birds is drab, but what they lack in colour they make up for with the most beautiful song of the Gippsland forests. Although they resemble true thrushes, which were introduced from Europe during the 19th century, Shrike-Thrushes belong to a different family that includes Bellbirds and Whistlers. It’s surprising to learn that they are found all over Australia and New Guinea, except in some of the driest parts of the desert. They breed between July and February, and they like to build their nests in a shady and secluded place. For the past four years a couple have been using a nest that they built at the back of the shed where I live. They have their first batch of about three eggs in September. The mother and father take turns to sit on the nest and then spend most of the day finding food for the fledglings after they hatch in October. The young birds will hang around in the shed until they are big enough to fly about and hunt for food by themselves, which usually means worms, insects, fruit and seed or even small skinks. Then the female lays another batch in November and they go through the same routine all over again. Sometimes there are only two fledglings and other times there may be three but the last is a runt who doesn’t survive. However, in December there was a successful brood of three raised, the last to leave pictured here perched on a ladder.