Frank has been bird-watching around the property of late, and found some new friends....
The red wattlebird is a maniac honeyeater with a voice that only it’s nearest and dearest can appreciate. This bird coughs and barks and grunts throughout the day – loud and distinct in every respect.
A backyard bully of around 35 centimetres in length, it has a specially adapted brush-tipped tongue for getting in and amongst the nectar. It can often be seen in our backyard actively chasing smaller species of honeyeater in and out of trees and shrubs, red eyes and red wattles flashing, in a single-minded high-speed pursuit that has a touch of ‘look out if I catch you’ about it.
I’ve never seen a nest, but understand it is made from sticks and leaves anywhere from two to sixteen metres off the ground. Insects, small critters, berries and fruits are on the menu as well as nectar from our grevilleas, bottlebrushes and waratah trees.
Mad and raucous, maybe, but it’s ours, so what can we do?
I have watched you
terrorise the branches
of the waratah
that bend and shake
beneath your bouncing
the flame flowers
Frank Prem, 2011