Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Headache Bird

The team members for the Significant Trees of Drouin project were constantly hearing a persistent ‘seet-dee-dee’ bird call during many of the tree surveys - click here to hear the call. In its breeding season, the Spotted Pardalote calls continuously from the canopy of large eucalypt trees.

The tiny Spotted Pardalote, Pardalotus punctatus, feeds on psyllids and other tiny invertebrates on the leaves. The bird helps to control insect populations, preventing them from stripping the foliage and perhaps from ultimately killing the tree.

One very strange trait of the Spotted Pardalote is that despite it being a canopy dwelling bird, it prefers to nest in a purpose dug tunnel in the ground. The sides of roads paths, gutters and dams etc, are favourite sites. Keen gardeners will sometimes come across this beautiful little bird dashing in and out of a well concealed nesting tunnel in some soft garden soil.

A close relative, the Striated Pardalote, prefers to nest inside natural tree hollows, crevices in buildings, etc.

Get a chance to see a Spotted Pardalote up close or through binoculars and it’s easy to see why it is often referred to as the jewel of the bush. The wings, tail and head of the male are black and covered with small, distinct white spots. Males have a pale eyebrow, a yellow throat and a red rump. Females are similar but have less-distinct markings.

Get out the binoculars and start checking those large eucs in your street!

This article was contributed by The Significant Trees of Drouin project team.

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