Male Magpie-lark settling in to do a shift of sitting on the nest.  He is standing up & so more visible than usual.

Male Magpie-lark settling in to do a shift of sitting on the nest. He is standing up & so more visible than usual.

I felt extremely fortunate to spot my first Magpie-lark nest today. Even though I spend a great deal of time looking upwards, I rarely spot bird’s nests.

This nest was in Tempe Reserve.  The parent birds were well aware of us.   They took turns to go hunting for food & sitting on the nest. Although in the photos they look as though the nest swallows them up, their tail completely overhangs the edge of the nest.

Magpie-larks (Grallina cyanoleuca) are Australian native birds. They eat insects, worms & crustaceans, as well as ticks if there are cows around.

Their nest is built of mud & lined with feathers & grasses.  This particular nest is a beautiful bowl high up in the tree. They generally mate for life & are territorial, often keeping the same territory.  Now that I know where their nest is, I will keep a lookout to see if they re-use it or nest in the same tree next year.  They lay between 1-6 eggs, though 3-5 is common.

‘Bird’s in Backyards’ has the following to say about identifying Magpie-larks –“the adult male Magpie-lark has a white eyebrow & black face, while the female has an all-white face with no white eyebrow.  Young birds have a black forehead, a white eyebrow and a white throat.”  For more see – http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Grallina-cyanoleuca

The chicks fledge at between 19-23 days old & are fully independent 5 weeks later. Everything is fast for birds. They live for 10 years or more & breed at 2 years of age.

Magpie-larks sing duets with each other. One bird will call “tee-hee” & their partner responds with “pee-o-wit.”   Only around 200 bird species sing duets, so they are pretty special.

The female Magpie-lark sitting on the nest.  The only movement you see is her hard turning this way & that as she keeps an eye on the environment.

The female Magpie-lark sitting on the nest. The only movement you see is her head turning this way & that as she keeps an eye on the environment.  I think they can see a huge distance from way up there.  

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