The whip crack sound effect made by Lyrebirds is actually the call of the Whipbird.
I have painted the Whipbird that you can see here in this photo.
This is a timber lazy susan which I have on our dining room table.
I was inspired to paint the Whipbird which is indigenous to Australia because he is a perching bird we have commonly in our area. I hear them lots but rarely see them.
The Whipbird in “my dreaming” sense is around to encourage me to “get cracking” with life and reminds us that if you aren’t prepared to do what it takes to realize dreams and reach your own potential then no one else will!
The Whipbirds forage in pairs. They are easily recognizably by their white neck stripes, black throat and white tipped tail feathers.
We have 3 species of Whipbird:
Eastern Whipbird, Western Whipbird and Mallee Whipbird.
I hope you like my painting
Spirit Meaning of the Whipbird:
Whipbird asks that you look at your life and check that you are in control. Whipbird primes us to “just know” what needs to be done and how, without being forced or cajoled.
It ensures we truly comprehend the power of the moment; the power that comes from realizing that, with commitment and effort we are destined for a productive future.
This little fella is also known as Shingleback and he is found in the arid and semi-arid areas of eastern Australia. The Shingleback’s habitat does not reach the eastern coast. The other three subspecies of Tiliqua Rugosa are found in the State of Western Australia.
The images with this post show the Shingleback is:
• Heavily armoured
• Slow moving
• Short with a wide stumpy tail
• Blue tongued
The Shinglebacks colouring varies from cream to dark brown.
The Shingleback is commonly known as
• Two-Headed Skink,
• Stump-Tailed Skink,
• Sleepy Lizard and
• Pinecone Lizard.
I think Shingleback and Pincone Lizards are my favourites!
Adult Shinglebacks are 26 to 31 cm long. They have a heavy body for their length. Their legs are short and it is difficult for them to lift and move their body.
Dingos and snakes may predate on these lizards but the greatest threat is feral cats, foxes and dogs, and being struck by vehicles.
These lizards need to sun themselves and sometimes choose road and road verges.
The Shingleback uses three defence mechanisms namely their:
• Armoured body
• Tail resembles their head to confuse predators, and
• Threat response
The Shingleback does not have autotomy. This means unlink many lizards and skinks it cannot shed or discard an appendage to escape a predator.
I was fortunate at this sighting to capture the threat response vividly.
Shinglebacks are omnivores. This Shingleback was sighted in early spring when he was sunning himself. They spend much of their time foraging for preferred food including insects, vegetation and flowers.
The Shinglebacks tail contains fat reserves for Brumation.
During research for this post I found this word – BRUMATION
Well it turns out Brumation is like hibernation but different metabolic process are involved.
Shinglebacks are reptiles. Brumation is triggered by dropping temperatures and reducing hours of daylight. Shinglebacks will wake during brumation to drink water but they will go months without food. The length of brumation depends on temperature and the condition of the reptile.
Shinglebacks are viparous – wow here is a third new term! That means they do not lay eggs. Instead the embryo develops in the mother leading to a live birth. A typical brood is 1 to 4 offspring relatively large given the size of the mother.
These lizards are monogamous and their pairing extends beyond the breeding season. Pairs return to each other for many years.
Offspring stay with their parents for several months. Parents share the parenting duties. The male acts as look out. When the offspring leave they will stay near as part of a colony of closely related members.
I love the Shinglebacks blue tongue. There are other species of blue tongue lizards in Australia which I will show you – as soon as I catch them on film.
These birds were photographed at the edge of what I like to refer to as the superb Fairy Wrens’ habitat, in central Queensland. The male with the blue marking is quite ruffled by the hot winds.
These little birds are quick when they move they even sing in bright musical trills. They are delicate and beautiful. They live in in family groups. These groups have more than 100 birds. This group was small, about twenty, birds living in the reeds and weeds (see the female) as the edge of a water hole. This male took a vantage point to have a look around.
About a year ago I started bird watching and took my Camera along to some bushland near my home. I didn’t know very much about birds. I just looked, listened and tried to get a few photos. The second day I became very excited over a grey bird that dived quickly from a very high perch in a tree.
This photo is the best I could get:
When I got home I put all the photos I had taken onto my computer. I then proceeded to identify each bird using the Simpson and Day Field Guide. The last bird was this grey one.
The best match I could find was the “Grey Falcon” – a rare bird.
Identification process for the Grey Falcon:
The Grey Falcon is grey with black streak under eye, black wing tips, white under belly with fine dark streaks, grey tail, and tail and wings faintly barred .
The habitat of Grey Falcons is woodland, plains and scrub in the arid interior often near waterholes.
The birds features include; eye brown, bill grey; eye ring, and cere and legs yellow.
Grey Falcons may be seen singly or in pairs. When hunting they fly very fast, close to the ground and pounce on prey. Normal flight is rather slow alternating wing beats and gliding. Grey Falcon can soar to great heights and spread their tails as they rise.
What to do with a rare find?
A fundamental principle for beginner bird watchers where there are two species your specimen could be:
If one is commonly found in the area you are in and the other is not known to be found in the area you are in … then your bird is probably the one commonly found there!
When it comes to grey birds of prey there was only one option at this location a Grey Falcon. But what would be the chance someone on their second day bird watching would find a rare bird.
So I surfed the net until I found a professional ornithologist searching for Grey Falcons. I sent him an email with my images and asked him to please identify my bird.
Clue: Look closely at the image and you will see a dark band about two thirds of the way down the tail.
This actual marking confirms the bird is a Nankeen Kestrel. The Nankeen Kestrel is a common species ( meaning it has a strong population)
However Nankeen Kestrels are not grey on their back and wings. The standard colouring of a Nankeen Kestrel is rufous (red-brown).
This means my specimen is not a rare Grey Falcon but it is unusual in that it is a grey Nankeen Kestrel.
From this point on I have been hooked and I do hope to find a Grey Falcon one day.
How to help researchers and our declining and/or endangered species:
This experience with identifying unusual grey coloured Nankeen Kestrel is an example of how you can help researchers and maybe help save declining species.
I have set out these steps in a previous post, and will repeat them here for our readers:
1 familiarize yourself with the species and its habit
2 observe carefully every chance you get
3 take a note of exactly where you are and what you see and find
4 report anything you might see to this website and to the National Parks and Wildlife authority for the State you are in.
Kookaburra call the sky people to light the great fire that illuminates and warms the earth by day….
As the morning star fades Kookaburra laughs his loudest to wake the sleeping for sunrise…..
The Kookaburras call sounds like a laugh – like their native name “Goo Goor Gaga”. For many aboriginal people it is taboo, given the function to start the day, to mimic the Kookaburras call.
The Laughing Kookaburra is found throughout the eastern states and southern Western Australia. There is a similar species called a Blue Winged Kookaburra which as the name suggests has more blue in its plumage.
The Laughing Kookaburra is the largest of the Kingfishers. They are territorial and nest in tree hollow in open woodlands and forest.
You will notice in my photos, that the Kookaburras beak is large the top bill is black and the lower bill is bone coloured.
The head is light coloured with brown marks and a brown stripe from the eye. The wings are brown with a blue mottle. In this image you can see the rufus barring of the tail.
Males often have blue on the rump. So this bird is probably female. Female’s heads are more buff and their rump is brown.
Kookaburras live in family groups. Kookaburra young are not forced to leave their parents territory on maturity. The territorial space is used to meet the needs of young adults (called auxiliaries) and breeding pairs before breeding season. The family group works together to protect offspring, raise offspring and defend territorial boundaries. The auxiliaries do not have a breeding territory or breed while they are in the auxiliary role (usually 4 years). These living circumstances help keep reproduction rates low. Research has shown the auxiliaries provide about 30% of incubation and brooding time, and 60 percent of the food for the hatchlings.
Kookaburras favour a diet of insects and invertibrates. They also eat snakes, lizards, rodents, and occasionally small birds. When a small a snake or lizard is caught the Kookaburra holds its catch in its beak to shake and beat the catch against a tree branch until it is dead.
This female Kookaburra above was observed catching a 15 cm snake and flying to this branch where she killed and ate the snake. She noticed me observing at a distance but allowed me to advance slowly until I was about 10 meters away. She then flew to another perch at a more comfortable distance. She again allowed me to advance slowly to 10 meters. She surveyed the area regularly and eventually flew to a high perch.
I was amazed to discover Kookaburra may live for 20 years. Because the population turnover is slow the birth rate is very low. Kookaburras form permanent pairs. This pair of Kookaburra were perched very high with quite a few people, bicycles and dogs passing by underneath without disturbing them.
Notice the blue rump on the male in this photo below.
Kookaburras are one of my favorite birds. I hope you enjoy them to.