Sunday, December 16, 2018

Mistletoe Bird

With the complex low that has been hovering over us recently, it was a relief to duck out to a favourite birding spot between a couple of storm cells.

Australia has around 90 species of mistletoe. None look anything like the ‘traditional’ Christmas mistletoe of the northern hemisphere. Many honeyeaters avail themselves of mistletoe nectar when they are in flower.

(Click on images for a larger view) 

I have ticked Mistletoe Birds at Thornell’s Reserve in the recent past, but a pair this morning was remarkably cooperative.

The Mistletoe Bird is the only Australian representative of the global flowerpecker family of birds.

After ten minutes or so of sneaking some pictures of a male, a movement in a nearby acacia caught my eye and the bins revealed a nest.

After cautiously working my way a little closer for a better view, I was able to see the  magnificent workmanship that had gone into the spider web construction.


There is plenty of mistletoe at Thornell’s Reserve. Mistletoe Birds eat the fruit and excrete the seeds with a sticky substance that adheres them to the branches of the host tree to ensure a succession of the parasitic plant.


While I was still 20 metres away, the female approached and began entering. She eventually got completely in and turned around to keep an eye out for any photographers.


Great to see that the heavy downpours don’t seem to be interrupting matters in the bird world.

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