The importance of a good technique

The highlight of a short excursion this morning to the Rise and Shine was observing a flock of Varied Sittellas foraging for insects.

These small, bark feeding specialists are handsome birds, especially when you see the splash of orange across their extended wings. I’ve watched them feeding many times but was fascinated to see a couple of the birds repeatedly flicking both wings simultaneously to disturb insects. This technique is commonly used by a number of insectivorous species – the Grey Fantail and Willie Wagtail come immediately to mind, but is not commonly seen with sittellas.

According to Joseph and Olsen (2011) … The birds zig-zag actively up and down the trunk and along branches with a rocking horse motion, probing and levering the bark with their upturned bills and occasionally flickering one wing, probably to flush cryptic prey.

It worked very effectively  this morning as the birds were having some success in dislodging insects. I’d be interested to hear from any folks who have observed this behaviour in Varied Sittellas.

Varied Sittella, Rise and Shine, 11th January 2018

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Gotcha!

Reference: Stray Feathers – Reflections on the Structure, Behaviour and Evolution of Birds by Leo Joseph and Penny Olsen, CSIRO Publishing (2011).

2 responses to “The importance of a good technique

  1. Dear Geoff Just wanted to let you know that I haven’t observed any birds in Santiago flushing insects out with s double wing flap!! Just on way to Bariloche for a week long think tank gig and a private land conservation meeting being hosted by the Lincoln Institute to be held here in Santiago. Have squeezed in two weeks down in sth Patagonia as well. Look forward to catching up sometime and having a crack at that elusive but alluring collaboration we must do.

    Take care and happy new year.

    Cheers Mike Williams Michael Williams & Associates Pty Ltd Natural Resource Management Facilitators & Strategists In Australia – 0408 104 030 (mob). If calling outside Australia +61 408 104 030. Excuse brevity & any typos as sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. Hi Geoff

    Please change my email address to: frank.hirst54@gmail.com This one will soon cease to work.

    You were sending to both for a while then stopped the wrong one!

    Cheers,

    Frank

    (03) 5659 7245, 0427 801 640 375 Kelly & Currans Rd, RANCEBY, Vic, 3951

    On Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 7:02 AM, Natural Newstead wrote:

    > Geoff Park posted: “The highlight of a short excursion this morning to the > Rise and Shine was observing a flock of Varied Sitellas foraging for > insects. These small, bark feeding specialists are handsome birds, > especially when you see the splash of orange across their ext” >

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