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Frogmouth squats in Chough’s Nest

November 28, 2021

The craft that goes into the construction of a White-winged Chough’s nest (Corcorax melanorhamphos) is extraordinary. The family work together to sculpt a beautiful mud bowl. ANU researcher Dr Connie Leon was fascinated by the complex family dynamics and noticed that they practised a type of slavery – young birds from neighbouring clans are coerced into the work gang, building the nest, taking a turn on the nest for brooding, and then helping to feed the very demanding chicks. In other words, the clan is augmented by additional young workers lured from other clans and kept there by vigilance.

Chough families are often seen on roadsides in our area and can grow to as large as 20 birds, although I have seen super flocks in Autumn at times of many more than that.  It seems a waste of energy to build a beautiful mud bowl nest each year. This family of choughs left an excellent nest behind and built a new one for the season on the other side of the same tree.

White-winged chough at new mud nest

So in moved a Tawny Frogmouth pair (Podargus strigoides) to occupy a perfectly-good choughs’ nest from the previous year. Frogmouths normally build a very flimsy nest on a fork on a horizontal branch where they train up a couple of lugubrious fluffy chicks to sit as still and stiff as their parents.

It must have been an irresistible opportunity to squat in this elaborate nest that no frogmouth could ever construct and bring up the family in security and comfort.

Tawny Frogmouth using an abandoned Choughs’ Nest

The slogan they follow seems to be: reduce (work), reuse, recycle.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Vicki permalink
    November 29, 2021 5:35 am

    Fascinating. Both how choughs build their nest and the frogmouth using the old nest. Isn’t nature amazing?

  2. Susan permalink
    November 30, 2021 11:01 am

    I had better watch out to see who recycles the cough nest in our drive way. Thank you for the insight Geoff. The next ANU study about coughs is the meaning of their vocalisations. This is sure to be fascinating as well.

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