I talk with ecologist Sue Stevens about the curiously-named apostle bird, the elegant black-winged stilt (if ever there was a bird that would make a great porcelain figure, it has to be this one!), as well as the super-active yellow-rumped thornbill and that great team player, the white-winged chough.
The Apostle bird
The Apostlebird, also known as the Grey Jumper, is quick-moving and native to Australia where it roams woodlands, eating insects and seeds at, or near, ground level. It was first described by ornithologist John Gould in 1837 and named after the twelve apostles.
In fact, Apostle birds travel in family groups of between 6 and 20, even joining other family groups creating large feeding flocks of over 40.
It also seems that they have plenty of nicknames not all of which are complimentary. Sometimes called Lousy Jacks (due to heavy louse infestations), Happy Jacks, Happy Families and CWA Birds. CWA birds is a bit of a dig at a Country Women’s Association meeting by comparing it to the Apostle bird’s constant chatter.
You may just well come across it in your travels, is so, we would love to see your photo of this bird. Send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org or 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675
The Black-Winged Stilt
The Black Winged Stilt is super elegant, handsome and beautifully coloured. This bird is a wader, meaning it’s standing not swimming when it feeds, as distinct from ducks. They use their sharp bills to peck. If you’ve seen aquatic birds and wondered what they’re eating, it’s only very small food such as molluscs, minuscule crustaceans, algae, flies and aquatic insects.
In order to keep predators away from their unhatched eggs, a black-winged stilt pretends to be injured so they can lure the predator away. The stilt can also make a sharp yapping sound and fly around frantically to distract any predators.
Unless you have a nearby wetland you probably won’t see this bird, but in the holiday season, you may just well come across it in your travels.
We would love to see your photo of this bird. Send it in to
email@example.com or write in to 2RRR po Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675
Diminutive, active, fast and confident. These words are used to describe the Yellow Rumped Thornbill. They eat mainly insects and spiders, and occasionally small seeds. Sometimes yellow-rumped thornbills forage in trees and shrubs, but they are mainly considered to be terrestrial as long as there’s some tree cover nearby, and they often hang around parties of other small birds when feeding. I talk with ecologist Sue Stevens about this wonderful bird.
De Alas Blancas, in Italian Gracchio Australiano Alibianche, in German Drosselkrähe.
What am I talking about? The White Winged Chough….
As Sue mentions, white-winged choughs usually have four adults that are deployed to feed one young, because the beetle grubs they eat are so difficult to find. But they will also kidnap young from another family, enticing them away by spreading their wings like a toreador’s cloak. The youngster is fed for the first season, then recruited into the feeding team in the next year. The result is a bigger “family”, that can raise more young.
If you’ve seen this bird, perhaps in Callum Brae woodland around Canberra, or just around your neck of the woods, send in a photo, or mention where you’ve seen it, all info to firstname.lastname@example.org or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675