I have been following the progress of a Yellow-billed Spoonbill (Platalea flavipes) nest since 22 December 2016. On my most recent visit to the nest on 4 February 2017 the three young were fully fledged and, at most, a few days away from flying.
Yellow-billed Spoonbills mostly nest in large colonies or sometimes just a few pairs – in this case just one pair have been nesting, though I discovered a second nest under construction on 4 February 2017. There were up to 17 adult birds, most in breeding plumage, congregating in large Redgums around the nest tree on the edge of a constructed lagoon.
Please click on photos to enlarge.
|Adult bird in breeding plumage – note the buff nuptial plumes on the upper breast and the fine black plumes from the inner wings. Many bird species rest and sleep on one leg with their bills tucked into their back feathers.|
|One juvenile bird was present among the 16 adult birds.|
|The stick nest is located high in an old Redgum on the right about half way up and well to the left of centre – the white young are just visible.|
|The water hole is about 90 metres from the nest tree. I doubt the Spoonbills would have nested in this location without the waterhole.|
For a post on nesting Royal Spoonbills see here: http://avithera.blogspot.com.au/2015/11/royal-spoonbills.html
On my first visit to the nest on 22 December the birds were most likely still incubating eggs.
|Adult Yellow-billed Spoonbill in breeding plumage on the nest (22/12/16). The bill is open but no sound emerged. They are usually silent, however Morcombe advises during threat displays they can do soft nasal coughs, grunts and bill clapping.|
|Adult bird on the nest (13/01/17) – the young are too small to be seen.|
My next visit, just over a week later, on 21 January 2017, was a very different story. The young, now between 3 and 4 weeks old, were very visible and begging for food. My visits to the nest were during the early afternoon due to a better light angle for photos. I did not see the young fed on any of my visits.
|The three young all begging for food at once. No food was forthcoming this time.|
|Parent bird with the three young (21/01/17) – as close to a family portrait as I will get as I have never seen both parents on the nest at the same time.|
|Wing feather development (21 /1/ 2017).|
|Wing feather development (1 /2/ 2017).|
From 21 Jan - 1 Feb, the bills of the young become much more spoon like.
|Note bill development (21/01/17).|
|Note bill tip has grown more spoon like by 1/2/2017.|
|Close-up of that amazing spoon bill.|
|A delicate and precision scratch at the edge of the eye with the pointy end of a claw.|
|The young were exercising their wings and wing muscles in readiness to fly (4/02/17).|
|The young also spent time preening – no doubt removing their down as the new juvenile feathers, now well advanced, continued to grow (4/02/17).|
A few flight shots to finish:
|Noir filter applied.|
|Natural colour again.|
It is an interesting and rewarding undertaking to follow the progress of a pair of large and very visible nesting birds such as Spoonbills.
I hope you have enjoyed my notes and photos of this event.