When you live on acreage you get to know the intimate lives of those you share the land with. Being a bird person, I pay particular attention to the daily activities of birds. We are privileged to have both Regent and Satin Bowerbirds around the house and they are bold and engaging creatures. You can imagine how pleased I was in December 2014 to observe a female Regent Bowerbird making a nest in the top of a tree not 10 metres away from the house. I saw the nest completed and observed her sitting on the nest. Within a short period of time I heard baby birds crying for food and watched the mother hard at work feeding the young ones. I knew that there were at least two babies but could not see into the nest to be sure about numbers.
You can imagine my complete dismay when on the 22nd January I found a female Regent Bowerbird dead on the ground below our veranda. She had flown into the glass window and killed herself despite my putting bright reflective stickers on it to prevent just such an event. Surely we would not have such bad luck that this was the mother bird of the babies? We had many Regents around and many females were present in the garden eating from our Lilly Pilli tree berries.
A day observing the nest was enough to convince me that indeed we had tragedy on our hands and that the babies were now orphaned. They begged loudly for food but no mother bird appeared to relieve their hunger. The next day the same circumstances prevailed and I decided that before the babies died through lack of food I would rescue them. I phoned around and found a bird carer that had successfully raised young Satin Bowerbirds. She lived 30 minutes away and agreed to have a go at raising the baby Regents, a first for this species for her.
The next phase of the story involves me (in my 60s) re-discovering my tree climbing ability after getting to the top of a 4 metre high ladder against the trunk of a tall tree. I climbed through some thick foliage to find in a beautifully made stick nest housing two little chicks covered in white down. Much to my astonishment, they were not frightened of me but opened their beaks to show a bright red gape and begged me for food with still strong voices. I placed the babies in a box and climbed back down to the ground. On the 24th January I took the little ones to Ann the carer’s place in Medowie and handed them over for her expertise and care.
Good reports for a week with both birds feeding well and growing … but then, without warning, the smallest baby died. Ann was devastated but the larger of the two still looked strong. With more time and care the surviving baby grew its fledging feathers and put on weight. I visited a number of times with fresh fruit food and took a few images of the surviving chick. On March 4th Ann wanted me to take the baby back to our property, Wallaby Farm, for release. It was ready to go back into the wilds of The Wallaby. I let it go and it flew to a tree about 6 metres away and preened itself. Then it saw the native grape vine and fluttered over for a quick feed of a familiar food treat I had taken for it while it was in care. A couple of big Satin Bowerbirds came in and our baby just took off with them and flew away high over the house and into our big trees.
The young Regent has been banded on its leg so hopefully I will be able to identify it whenever I get a chance to see it. I set up a feeding station for it to come back and re-charge its well-being if it needs to. However, even if I never see it again, Ann the carer and I have intervened in life to allow some continuity in a Regent Bowerbird’s life-story. The mother is dead but one of her babies lives on. Who knows, even the father might be re-united with his son or daughter? I will be looking attentively at the legs of Regent Bowerbirds from now on!
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