Friday, 20 November 2009

Territorial disputes

Since the other tree was chopped down to allow the dish a clear line of sight to the satellite, the catbirds and riflebirds have been forced to share the yellow evodia (Melicope bonwicki). It's not that there's a shortage of trees — this is a rainforest, after all — but the evodia seems to be prime real estate. A pair of catbirds and a family of riflebirds (mum, two youngsters and dad, if he's around) frequently face off over ownership of the branches.

Let's hope the wind doesn't change


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Snail
You're being unkind on the Catbird with the "Lets hope the wind doesn't change" comment.
I find them quite pretty - at least the wings and tail. Maybe the face is a little severe.
Nice story.

Neil said...

You are so lucky to have Catbirds and Riflebirds that close.

Snail said...

Denis, they are splendid birds. They were on my list of 'must haves' when I was looking for a property up here. But they are real bullies (and opportunistic predators of nestlings), so it's interesting to see something stand up to them. Even the pademelons are intimidated.

The female riflebirds respond to the catbirds' threats by fanning out their breast feathers and stretching their wings in the same way the males do in the cortship display. Haven't got a photo of that yet, cos it's all so quick and unpredictable. Fascinating, but.

Neil, I usually only see one pair of catbirds at a time, but the garden was invaded by riflebirds for a brief period --- two males, and five females and juveniles. A swarm!

Mel said...

Hi there!
Awesome shot, I love pics where you can see a bit of the subject's personality or an attitude :)
Hugs from Peru!

Dave Coulter said...

That evodia tree must be some valuable real estate!

Mosura said...

Regarding your comment: "invaded by riflebirds for a brief period"

Do you know if the are they attitudinal migrants? It's just a question that popped into my head but I couldn't find an answer anywhere.

Mosura said...

Umm... That's Altitudinal :-)

Snail said...

Mel, catbirds are all attitude! They just about run the rainforest.

Dave, that evodia gives quite a good view of the garden and the edge of the rainforest, so they might be using it as a territory marker. The catbirds often perch in it in the late afternoon and call.

Mosura, the riflebirds are residents in the garden, but they all turned up at the same time, which was quite impressive. Jo Wieneke's handy little guide 'Where to find birds in NE Qld' refers to them being found in coastal forests, but I can't remember seeing them at lower altitudes. They are definitely common in parts of the Atherton Tablelands and are here all year round. (Which doesn't answer your question!)

Anonymous said...

Re Mosura's query about the Riflebirds. They are definitely residents of the coastal rainforest - there's just not that much of it left!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating to watch, aren't they? Their territorial markers are as invisible to us as ours are to them.

Snail said...

It's good to know riflebirds are found in both coastal and upland rainforest. I guess I focus on this population because I don't have to move from my chair to see them.

Wren, there's secret bird business going on all the time here. The riflebirds aren't interested, but the catbirds seem to pay a lot of attention to what's going on with we unfeathered bipeds.