Sunday, 28 December 2014

Fig parrots depart the nest

One young double-eyed fig parrot nearly did not make it.  The black butcherbird had him and was flying off but the butcherbird fumbled the chick and I was able to recover it.   It helped that the butcherbird was looking in the garden for chick, otherwise I would not have known where the chick was.  I do not know how the butcherbird caught the chick and I suspect that the chick was on its first venture out of the nest.
Cracticus quoyi
Black butcherbird thinking about how to catch caged birds
A day before, I photographed the chicks in the nest hollow.  When you move near the tree, they hide, but if you stand still for a few seconds, they can’t resist having a look.  It must be very hot in the still air of the hollow and in the late afternoon they are almost gasping for cool outside air.

Hiding fig parrot chicks
They can't resist taking a look for long
I imagine that a number of predators that stalk my yard could have eaten the chicks. Carpet snakes, lace monitors, tree snakes, kookaburras and of course black butcherbirds make up the main threats. Tree-climbing rats could also be an issue at night.  All these animals are present in the Cairns suburbs, particularly the older suburbs with quarter acre blocks that are not far from swamp or rainforest.  In fact, in mid-October I viewed a large chick in the nest and this chick may not have made it.  Birds grow fast and I do not think that a chick that was large in October would be the same bird as the chicks which I watched in December but then I do not know much about fig parrots.

The recovered and unhurt chick
I put the lucky chick back in the nest hollow.  He went in and was silent for half an hour.  The parents had seen the black butcherbird take the chick and then a human jump a fence and catch the chick so they were quite upset.  They refused to go near the nest hollow but instead flew some high reconnaissance circuits around the nest tree and made loud alarm calls.  The unaffected chick was calling for food loudly.  Suddenly I saw three parrots fly directly from the area of the nest to the dense canopy of a nearby weeping fig.  I suppose that both chicks simultaneously flew the nest.  The chick I rescued and that could not fly at ground level could drop from the tree to pick up speed then fly fast and level.  After six months of watching this nest hollow, suddenly it was empty.

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