Sunday, November 21, 2004

Now there's three

Three hatched and have survived. Already at less than a week old they are beginning to look very much like native noisy miners. Feathers are beginning to appear and quills on their wings are sprouting. They are at least twice the size they were when first hatched. Mum, Dad and one other adult are kept busy in daylight hours feeding the hungry babies. Everything seems to be acceptable, lime green caterpillars, grasshoppers - almost still in flight, grubby worms, even what looks like whitish eggs of some type, maybe termites.

One day last week I took the opportunity to peek in when the adult birds were off on their food hunting. One of the babies was lying in a most awkward position. I couldn't see what it was that was wrong so gently lifted it up. To my surprise, down its throat was caught a long piece of nylon twine - coming from a tangled mess of this material which mum bird had woven into the nest, anchoring it to some small branches.

I gave a bit of a pull - but it was stuck fast. I couldn't in all honesty pull any harder - I felt as though the tiny scrap's whole inside would be pulled out. The only thing for it was to try to cut it off. I proceeded to get sharp scissors from inside and once the adults had left the area again, I snipped it off. I truthfully thought the poor thing would not survive till the morning with all that going through it's digestive system.

Morning came and I checked to see whether only two birds were now in the nest - thinking that mum may have ditched the one affected if it had died through the night. To my surprise all three were happily chirping and craning their necks - beaks wide open, waiting for a morsel to be shovelled down. And so it has continued. Seemingly no damage done. These birds must be made with cast iron digestive systems!

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