Life and Death in the Cove . . . a saga

By dougk, 30 October, 2023
Eastern Rosella

Since early August we have had an armchair view of the valiant efforts of a beautiful pair of Eastern Rosellas who took possession of a nesting box in a nearby tree after they sussed it out over the previous fortnight.

Perhaps they were first-timers as they appeared skittish that first week. But then mum would eventually gain enough confidence to slip inside the box while dad sat patiently waiting nearby. When Mum emerged, they would fly off together. This pattern was repeated daily for what seemed like weeks.

After that, the pattern changed and Mum was observed to spend more time in the box - yet she was often away for long periods too. We were becoming doubtful if their brooding efforts would be successful. Was she sitting on the eggs long enough for them to incubate, we wondered.

But when both Mum and Dad began heading off on long foraging expeditions, entering the box upon their return, we knew they must now be feeding their chicks.

Just a few days ago, one their offspring made its first public appearance. An adventurous one would pop up and push his beak out the small opening in a box. Then later, the beak of a shyer one appeared to one side of its sibling.

Yesterday morning, Dad sat on top of the box and appeared to be urging the braver youngster to come further out. We could now see the distinctive white cheeks of a, surprisingly large, young Eastern Rosella chick.

An unwelcome visitor came to our place yesterday afternoon: a goanna more than one and a half metres long from tip of tongue to tail end.

In what seemed like no time at all, that goanna had climbed to the nesting box. Young Mr Adventurous poked his head out to see and, sadly, was immediately snaffled.

The goanna climbed with its struggling prize high into the tree. Birds of all varieties swarmed about it angrily. The goanna was unfazed. With a few deft movements it adjusted its hold and swallowed the young bird head first.

Not sufficiently sated by that first course, the goanna made its way back down to the nesting box, its tongue darting in and out, tasting the air. From the top of the box it leaned over poking its head as far as it could into the small entrance. When we remonstrated furiously it retreated somewhat and, after a second discouraged attempt, it made its way right down that tree before heading west to find another opportunity for a feast.

This morning, those Eastern Rosella parents seemed rather lost. They paced upon the lid of the box. Their remaining chick was still inside but we did not see them go in. Have they now abandoned it? Hopefully not.

We waited and watched – only to see the goanna return this afternoon for yet another attempt. Chicken wire now pegged around the base of the tree proved no impediment. Perhaps he was less hungry today as he was easier to dissuade.

Life can be a tough gig for a little bird.

Filed under

Episode 2: 

We were relieved to see the Eastern Rosella parents return late that same evening and, over the following 10 days or so, they raised their remaining chick until it was large enough to leave the nest. We cleaned out the nesting box and two days ago, that same pair of Eastern Rosellas came back to start again.

But yesterday, a one-metre goanna climbed inside the box, had a tasty meal then decided the box was not a bad place to stay the night. It must have been a tight fit. The Rosella parents were decidedly unhappy!

The goanna decided today that the box was a great base to make forays higher into the tree which plays host to a great many birds. An enormous racket ensued. Butcher birds arrived and swooped repeatedly at the goanna. A Kookaburra thought it was no laughing matter and  screeched loudly on each fly-past. Eventually, the goanna decided retreat was the better option - but passing vehicles and dogs sent it scrabbling up another nearby tree.

Butcher birds at 1 metre goanna
Preparing to swoop
Whoosh, a fast fly-past by the butcher bird
Whoosh! Where did it go?

Good to find out the remaining chick survived!

You could try wrapping the bottom section of the truck with some thin metal sheeting to prevent the goanna from climbing the trunk.