The bush comics

My visits over recent days to this drying waterhole in the Mia Mia have featured regular appearances from at least two separate flocks of White-winged Choughs. These charming and engaging ‘bush comics’ never cease to delight as they go about their business. All flocks comprise adult and juvenile birds and they employ a sophisticated system of surveillance as they feed, roost, preen and dust-bathe in their territories. They also engage in spectacular displays involving dramatic arching and waving of their wings, which combined with head bobbing while simultaneously engorging their eyes with blood, makes for ‘essential viewing’. The purpose of these displays varies with the circumstances – it can be associated with predator alarm, territorial defence, greetings between group members, appeasement, group bonding or to even entice a fledgling away from a neighbouring group with the intention of ‘kidnapping’.

WWC1

White-winged Choughs, Mia Mia Track, 21st January 2016

WWC2

Adult in full display mode

WWC3

II

WWC4

III

WWC5

IV

WWC6

V

Footnote: John Hutchinson, who runs the terrific Avithera blog, has made some great observations about what causes the ‘fiery eyes’ in displaying choughs – click here to read John’s thoughts.

7 responses to “The bush comics

  1. A most interesting post Geoff. You have prompted me to pay more attention to these birds. Tim Low’s book, ‘Where Song Began’ also made me realize I have a lot to learn about our birds.

  2. Fantastic images Geoff. Count Dracula would flinch at this display!!

  3. Geoff

    We continue to be amazed at your wonderful photographs and your chronicling of the birds in our area. Your capturing of the blood engorged eyes on the choughs is terrific as it is a feature of them that I had no idea about. Thank you for enriching our lives and enjoyment, not to mention our education,

    about all these wonderful creatures with which we are privileged to share our lives.

    Kind regards

    Deanna & Neil Buck

    Maldon

  4. Thankyou we love your fantastic posts each day, would you mind if I used some of them to paint from? Regards Nicky Sage

    Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone on the Telstra™ Mobile network

  5. The delights of choughs – crazy and completely in charge at my place. Latest incident was one chough beating in my car windscreen with a white bone it had found. My car occasionally braves the carport – which is now the choughs home territory. They seem obsessed with white objects and in beating/bashing with them – on a bin lid, car windscreen, window – and they are pretty rhythmic too.

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