Along the Track: Mudlarks

Those that know me well, will tell you that I have a distinct appreciation for Magpie-larks.
Goes all the way back to a young kid chasing them along the irrigation channels where I grew up.
Muddies, Mudlarks, Peewees, all names that these fiesty little birds have been called.

I think we all appreciated as little kids that Muddies could play about in puddles of water, and not get told off. A sneaking respect for them so developed.

Their antics are numerous, and among them are the range of calls that they have. Ask them, “How deep is the water?” and they’ll respond with a shrill, “Knee-deep”. They also have a charming duet call, first he calls, then she answers.
They also love to fly together, land, and go through a wing-waving technique with lots of shrill calls.

They also have the into and out of the nest down to an art form. The incoming one calls to announce arrival, and as it drops in, the other one departs.
To a casual observer it would seem that a bird flew into, and then out of the tree. The amount of time for the change over, is not much more than the blink of an eye.

We have one that visits the local front garden, its a female. She has worked out, I think, that the concrete aand metal fences nearby will amplify her call, and it is really quite penetrating.

Recently I also learned that their mud-nest building is a little more complicated and explains an odd thing that I’ve seen from time to time. Occassionally I would find a nest in one tree, and another nest nearby, but the second nest was never used. Seems that Muddies get a bit confused, or excited about nest building, and after looking at several sites, they seem to select one, and start work, but also begin work on a second one as well. Eventually, both harmonise and one nest gets completed.

This clutch is at least their second for this season, and there was no confusion about the nest location. Both worked on it.

The pictures tell the rest of the story.

All complete and she settles down to laying and beginning to brood
They share the brooding process
The young are hatched in around 18 days, and a clutch is usually 3. I have seen one clutch of 4
Within a few days, they have packed on the weight, and developed feathers and are nearly ready to leave
A wing stretch that overflows the nest
Mum arrives with a top-up
Plenty of begging, but she knows which one is next
And in it goes
Still, it doesn’t hurt to ask
Maybe a wing-flap might attract attention
But, that’s it for this round.

Once they fly, there will be no holding them, so its all over so quickly.