Been a tad busy with the occasional family thing and a couple of other events and have kind of gotten all out of time sync.
We’ve followed up on the Jacky Winter family a couple of times, and as it happens the two young are well fledged and now after about 2 weeks on the wing quite expert at getting about. But not feeding on their own yet.
As we are going back up to the family acres (pun in there somewhere), for the next week, we headed out this morning to see how the young were doing.
And as we had plenty of time, I was able to sit back and learn some of the ways of Jacky.
Mum has one chick on oneside of the road, and Dad has the other chick across the road. Both are quite capable on the wing, and can easily fly along with the parent.
Still, the trick is to leave them in the scrub and feed them. First thing I learned is that they are keeping them low on the bushes, so they can see what hunting is all about, and are being actively encouraged to drop on to the ground and search about, even if they haven’t quite figured out what to look for.
The next thing I learned is that the young are quite adept already at the Jacky Winter hover and when trying to land on a branch can hover up to it with ease.
Once they have been fed the adult sits with them for quite a number of seconds, perhaps as re-assureance, or maybe to check that the spot is still safe to hide
I also learned that the lovely dusky grey and white colours of the parent is an ideal match with the surrounding scrub, and several times I missed the bird as it was motionless and matched the colours of the trees. Not until the famous Tail-wag showed the white tail feathers was I able to locate them.
Another Jacky trick is that of, with food to offer, flying right past the juvenile, (who remains silent), and then going out 50-70 metres before making a dramatic U turn and flying back through the scrub, making more U turns as it goes. Then quickly negotiating the upper leaves or the lower scrub depending on where the little dude is located. Makes it pretty hard for the average predator to find either parent or young.
I also discovered that there are certain perches that are used again and again for hunting. One particular one near where I was watching was in the Y of a branch, and Jacky simply disappeared when on that one.
I got two rapid flybys, and then after that quick a few slower flybys at about 1-2 m. So I think I was considered benign.
It was a cold morning and the little birds were fluffed up to keep warm, and that made them look larger when the Parent sat alongside. I’m pretty impressed with the concern shown to the young one, and Mum is quite happy to sit with it, and exchange some ‘peeps’ and ‘cheeps’ to reassure it. Quite charming, but then Jacky is a very charming bird.
Here are some from the last couple of visits.