Spotted Pardalote. The bird of rumour and voice. Mostly we never see them. Hidden among the topmost leaves, their tiny call recognisable, but impossible sometimes to locate.
To nest, they descend to the earth, dig an incredible tunnel — up to 60cm or more and setup house for the 3 weeks it takes to lay, incubate, hatch and fledge their young.
Those of us who walk the earth with them will often find evidence of their nesting activity. So I suppose do all sorts of feral predators. Yet, each year they disard their cloak of invisibility and take to the task.
Once complete, its back to the treetops and small tiny peeps that discolose their presence.
They are one of our smallest birds. I’ve handled a dead one, (hit by a bicyle — the bird didn’t even know what happened, and the rider was oblivious —. I picked it up, still warm, it fitted into the very centre of the palm of my hand, my thumb twice as large as the bird. I took it to the side of the road, opened up a small hole in the earth and laid it ever-so-gently down. The warm earth welcomed its little wonder.
They are so prefectly marked. Rich black, white, deep orange yellow. Tiny legs that seem like rubber bands as they can stretch and seem to bend to any angle.
While EE was spending time with ‘her’ Juvenile Eastern Yellow Robin — it is now growing to be quite the impressive adult, keeping only just a hint of its juvenile brown feather set now — I looked to see what else was in the area.
A small family of Spotted Pardalote were feeding among some of the smaller gums in the area, and were happy to work in the lower branches while I followed their progress.
As enigmatic as ever, they were gone.