What’s wrong with this picture?
At first glance all seems well, but on a second take, well, its obvious. Timmy doesn’t have a tail. And there-in lies the tale.
Was working with a pair of Willie Wagtails and had been sitting quietly for perhaps 15 minutes or more as they worked out strategy and tactics for building of their new domicile. If all goes well, expect more of that story.
When suddenly up pops Timmy. And at first glance I thought, “Oh, another Fairy-wren”, but then it was obvious that something wasn’t right.
Happen to be reading “blink: The power of thinking without thinking”, by Malcolm Gladwell. A good book for bird photographers as it suggests that the power of making choices in an instant. Actually its more about the power of marketing, and why we all recognise a can of Coca Cola, even if we don’t drink the stuff.
But, it didn’t seem right. So I looked, and sure enough Timmy is Tail-less. Otherwise a perfectly healthy Male, Superb Fairy-wren, and quite able to defend vocally his territory. Also seems to have a flotilla of females in a bush area some 30m from where I was sitting and they all treat him as usual. (That is giving him lectures from bushes).
So what happened to Timmy? Something disastrous, or is he also helping nesting and has lost his tail in the process, or has he had a bad attack of the moults? Or is its even more complicated. Perhaps someone has some info on what might have happened.
In our backyard, there are two resident Blackbirds. For most of the early part of the season, they seemed to be engaged in battles that were more than courtship, and occasionally I’d see quite a few feathers fly, and find a few on the patio. Now, as they settle to nesting, and don’t seem anywhere near as aggressive, I’ve noted that both of them are tail-less.
Other Blackbirds I’ve seen in the area are well tail endowed, so its just this pair.
Did they manage to pull each one’s tail feathers out in the ensuing battles?
Will keep an eye on Timmy, will be interesting to see if he regrows his glory.