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The Singing Stump

December 19, 2014
Lepidoptera lunch!

Lepidoptera lunch!

It’s Odonata time. The dragonflies and damselflies are doing their zoomy patrols around the dams. My aim this year is to get the perfect photo of one in flight. In ten years I have had no luck. I can’t see that changing. As I was sitting by the water’s edge (waiting for that dragonfly shot) I heard a high-pitched manic chirping every ten to fifteen minutes. A search of the surrounding trees revealed no nest. I finally tracked down the ‘singing’ to a nearby stump.

On a regular basis both a male and female White-throated Treecreeper (Cormobates leucophaea) arrived at the stump bearing beaks full of food. Their disappearance into the stump was greeted by a cacophony of chirping from inside. A quick look in the stump with a fibre-optic camera after the parents had departed revealed three chicks deep in the bowels of the stump. You can just make out the white flashes of the beaks (pictured below).

aImg00008White-throated Treecreepers are insectivores and are often seen hopping up the trunks of trees. In fact the binomial name is derived from the Greek words kormos meaning trunk of a tree and bates meaning to travel. Local lore has it that treecreepers hop up the trunks of trees and Varied Sittellas (Daphoenositta chrysoptera) hop down, thus finding different food sources. The female treecreeper has an orange marking on its cheek.

It's a shit job but someone has to do it

It’s a shit job but someone has to do it


When the parents left the stump they carried in their beaks a fecal sac (pictured left). Because the nest is enclosed, the waste products from the chicks needs to be removed regularly. As was previously posted about Striated Thornbill chicks, treecreeper chicks excrete a translucent gelatinous membrane containing all the excrement, which the parent then picks up and removes from the nest.

The nest, situated where it is, guarantees that these two chicks are at least safe from the Pied Currawongs hunting in such numbers at the moment.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. ccobern permalink
    December 19, 2014 8:03 am

    I often find White-throated Treecreepers nesting in nest boxes that we’ve installed in the Kinglake and Flowerdale areas.

    • ronlit permalink*
      December 19, 2014 8:35 am

      I have found that too. This blog-site has several posts about these birds in the nest box we have set up next to our deck. It’s good to see them nesting in a natural habitat.

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