The Natural natural builder

By Richard Cassels

A pair of Magpie-larks have just completed this fine mud nest in a Pecan tree below the Fisheries Building. The source of their building materials is the dry mud at the base of the nearby detention basin. (The barrenness of the detention basin’s bottom is due to a flock of about 50 Maned Wood Ducks having eaten every grass seed that our contractors planted!). The Magpie-larks now face the challenge of protecting their eggs from the vigorous and noisy Koels (a kind of cuckoo) that are looking for every opportunity to parasitise their nest, by evicting the eggs of the Magpie-larks and replacing them with their own. One of the spectacular abilities of the cuckoo family is for females to be able to lay an egg at moment’s notice, just when the host have been distracted. Watch this space as this story develops! Photos of Dramatis Personae below.

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Photo above: some of the Maned Wood Ducks that ate the grass seed in the Detention basin (Photo RC).

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Above: Looking for foster parents for its young : a female Koel on a roof in Research Road in late October. Photo RC.