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Flight of the fledglings

January 25, 2023

I have never had kids but I imagine watching them drive off with their P-plates for the first time is a time of mixed emotions – pride and trepidation maybe. I experienced this recently watching two tiny Eastern Spinebills fly for the first time.

Eastern Spinebills (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris) are a species of small honeyeater found in south-eastern Australia. In summer the female bird builds a nest and incubates the eggs for about two weeks after which time both parents feed the chicks. When the chicks are 2 weeks old they are ready to leave the nest.

This week two fledglings tried their luck at taking flight. Chick 1 (pictured left) displayed more ‘plummet’ than flight and with a furious flap of wings crash landed in the middle of the driveway. Chick 2 flew a bit further. Their incessant chirping combined with encouraging vocals from the nearby parents attracted the attention of the dog and the chickens who raced over for a look. To rescue them I placed both birds back in the nest but chick 2 launched itself in flight again with the same results. It was placed in the nearby tree (pictured below) out of harm’s way. For the rest of the afternoon I left them to it. Chick 2 I observed undertook little flights from branch to branch with the parents hovering nearby.

I prefer to let nature take its course. Normally my only intervention would be to maybe name them but I couldn’t let these two aviator-wannabes become chook food. I hope both chicks are now happily flying around my garden.

By the way I named them Wilbur and Orville.

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