Bird of the Day

Finally! A new tick on the life list

Bronwen Scott

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Blue-faced Honeyeater in the garden, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland. © Bronwen Scott

I thought I should post something other than bird stories, so I started work on a different topic. But I couldn’t — and still can’t — pick the right angle. This Peugeot is me:

So while I wait for the towtruck of imagination to arrive, here’s a bird story.

Despite the heat — and it’s been record-breaking — plenty of birds have been visiting the garden.

This male Sahul Sunbird digs into the neighbour’s Costus for insects and pollen. This species was formerly known as the Olive-backed Sunbird, ranging from Myanmar and southern China to Queensland. But a taxonomic rethink recognises that the Olive-backed Sunbird is actually a cluster of closely related species, including Garden Sunbird (Philippines), Palawan Sunbird (Palawan), and Ornate Sunbird (Myanmar to Nusa Tenggara). It makes no difference to this glorious little bird, of course. He’s still searching through the gingers, unaware that he’s no longer named for his least impressive feature but for an ancient continent encompassing Australia and New Guinea but not Sulawesi, where the species is also found.

Male Sahul Sunbird, Atherton Tablelands. © Bronwen Scott

Joining him in investigating the gingers are the Blue-faced Honeyeaters (see header photo). These chonky honeyeaters are protective of their food sources and will chase off most interlopers. I surprised a group of them in the lillypilly trees and they shrieked at me, attracting Magpie-larks, who must have thought they’d found an owl or a cuckoo to mob. (They left disappointed — for the moment.)

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes keep themselves to themselves and are above joining in with mobbing. The last time I photographed one of these lovely birds, it was raining. They look particularly handsome in the sun.

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Bronwen Scott

Zoologist, writer, artist, museum fan, enjoying life in the tropical rainforest of Far North Queensland. She/her. Website: bronwenscott.com