Flying with Jacky Winter

I’ve made the statement before that Jacky Winter are birds that have stolen my heart.

They are not the most startling of colour, nor do they seem to have a particular outstanding feature that makes them a special bird.  They used to carry the unfortunate name, “Lesser Fascinating Bird”, so that should be a hint as to how we’ve seen them in the past.
They have a pleasant nature, and don’ t seemed too fussed by us humans. And once they have id’d us, they seem to settle into tolerance bordering on disdain.

We were in the You Yangs some weeks back and it was casually mentioned, “Oh, I saw a Jacky Winter down near the old school building”, as in— well that ticked Lesser Fascinating Bird off my list, have you seen anything important?  It was enough to make me stop on the way out and scout around.

Already to go

Lo, there was the familiar cream and grey flitting from branch to ground and back again.  “Hello Jacky”.   I get a “Peter, peter, peter”, response.  Then a second bird appeared and the familiar discussion between the pair which sounds like, “winter, winter, winter”, but probably translates to “Another pesky photographer has turned up”.

Then one was gone, but quickly followed by the second with a large insect in beak.  Straight to where a small “Y” in a branch held a tiny bunch of twigs and the first bird sitting on them.  A Nest!

And so began the Jacky Project.

We’ve been down a few times since then, and watched as slowly the nesting turned into small tiny beaks popping up for food, then more gradually little bundles of down, that changed to feathers and then to wing feathers developing.
Till finally we would be able to observe two well-developed young birds.

Right in the middle of all this was a few days of heat getting up to the high 30’s C.  And the nest was in the open part of the mid morning till quite late in the afternoon.  Mum and Dad took it in turns to sit on the side of the nest and protect the little ones from the heat, and occasionally a wing flap or two, not sure if that was heat relief for the adult or to move air over the young.

But the plucky pair stuck to the job, and the other morning, we looked and there were two very fit looking young flapping about in the nest.

And then.

There was one.

The second one seemed less inclined to make the beginning adventure, and in the end we ran out of time, but no doubt it would have been in the air before we arrived home.

We’ll have to go back and see how the young develop over the next couple of weeks. Not that they’ll be that easy to find based on past experiences.

Jacky Winter at nest
Such a tiny nest, and well blended into the surrounds. Unless I’d have seen her land, I don’t think I would have located it so quickly.
Jacky Winter : The Struggle
Feeding the tiny young. At this stage they don’t have any feathers. And the parents needed to sit on the side of the nest and shade them from the heat.
The down is being rapidly replaced with some lovely grey and black feathers.
Jacky Winter: Nestling on a wing stretch
Wings that are well on the way to development. The little pins are starting to show the first breaking out of feathers
Big wing stretch to let everyone know it has worked out the process
Well developed and ready for their big day.
Last minute flight check. All seems in order
Jacky Winter: Important Food Top-up
A final food top to see it on its first flight
A quick top up for the stay-at-home bird. With much lecturing about the joy of flight no doubt it would be gone within a few hours
Such a pleasing bird to work with. The Jacky seems to quickly dispel any fear and just carries on as usual. They may not be our most colourful bird, but the delicate blend of grey and brown photographs so well.


Sort of has the look of "Well, if you want it, fly on over and get it"
Sort of has the look of “Well, if you want it, fly on over and get it”

6 thoughts on “Flying with Jacky Winter

    1. Hi Eleanor, It’s got to be my “Feel Good Story of 2016”.
      T’was only a chance encounter, and suddenly took up all our outing time.
      Must be back to the Eastern Yellow Robins, if it ever gets cooler! 🙂


  1. Hi David! Good see your back with more great inside (nest) stories. Love the Jackie shots and your enjoyable narrative. You capture such priceless shots. I agree that our very few encounters with Jackie has been very similar to your own. Your second-last profile shot of Jackie is exquisite!


    1. Hi AB,
      Dorothy did most of the nest photography, I just managed a few occassionally. She is on Flickr at to see more.
      I mostly did portraits of the adults as they hunted. Not hard as part of the time they were happy to have me walk about and stir up insects. It might be an example of a symbiotic relationship 🙂 (I jest).
      But it did mean that I was able to get the best light/backdrop and poses from the pair. Might do another post of some of them.

      Hopefully we’ll get a few more sighting of the young, although they do seem to get away pretty early I’ve noted in the past.

      Glad you enjoyed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. G’day David. This is a beautiful story to start the year with and a feel-good one indeed! Some photos are really exquisite and the set perfectly documents the new generation of this lovely birds emerging. I always appreciate your talent to show the beauty most people pass by not able to see.


    1. G,day Adam, welcome back for the new year. Hope that you get to see some exciting images for your lens this year.

      They are such charming birds to work with, and I’m sort of hoping she makes a second clutch before the season is over, as we have really enjoyed the time with them.

      They are the hardest little nests to locate, and I’m certain I’ve walked by so many in the past and never noticed them.

      All the best.


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