Friday, August 12, 2016

Little Wattlebird

‘Kookay-kok’, ‘Yekop-yekop’ and Kraagk-kook-kraagk’ are just a few of the word descriptions for the musical calls of the Little Wattlebird, (listen - Graeme Chapman external link).

Little Wattlebirds are large grey-brown honeyeaters with long brush-like tongues that they use for extracting nectar from flowers, and they are relatively prolific in the parks and gardens of Drouin. Like some other honeyeater species – Rainbow Lorikeets, Noisy Miners, Bell Miners, etc – Little Wattlebirds often feed in boisterous and aggressive groups, frequently driving off other birds from their garden territory.

Also, like many other honeyeaters, Little Wattlebirds will take insects on the wing, displaying a large rufous wing patch in flight. Their streaky grey-brown plumage is similar to the Red Wattlebird but the Little Wattlebird does not have the red wattles behind the eye or the yellow belly patch of its slightly larger ‘cousin’.  

The preferred habitat of the Little Wattlebird includes woodlands, drier forests, heathlands and in some places, urban parks and gardens. Their distribution is restricted to the south-east corner of the continent and they are locally nomadic, following the blossoming eucalypt, melaleuca, banksia and other native trees and shrubs as well as some of the exotic flowering trees and shrubs in urban areas.

 A fairly common experience in the streets and parks of Drouin is to encounter a loud ‘kwok’ alarm call when you pass under a flowering tree containing a feeding party of Little Wattlebirds. I for one am more than happy to share our trees and shrubs with this highly active nectar feeder.

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