VERY SOCIAL: The apostlebird is sometimes known as the happy jack.
VERY SOCIAL: The apostlebird is sometimes known as the happy jack.

BRIGGSY’S BIRDS: Happy jack has a feisty personality to boot

LAST week a reader reported seeing a hummingbird in her garden, which was quite a surprise as hummingbirds are not found in Australia.

It was a hummingbird hawk moth that flies and hovers just like a hummingbird but, of course, is not a bird at all.

Getting back to birds, this week we will feature the apostlebird, sometimes known as the happy jack.

It gets its name from the fact that it is often seen in groups of 12 or more.

While it is not very colourful with a dark grey body, black tail and brown wings, it has a feisty personality and is a very social bird.

They forage on the ground in communal groups, feeding on seeds and vegetable matter, insects, snails and, sometimes, small vertebrates such as skinks.

They often quarrel with each other when foraging and communicate with a rough, scratchy and discordant 'ch-kew ch-kew'.

They are one of a small group of birds that build a mudnest on the horizontal branch of a tree that is lined with strips of bark and grass. The whole group helps to build nests and feed the young chicks once they hatch but the parents do the incubation.

Sometimes more than one female will lay an egg in the same nest so the process of breeding is very co-operative.

They are often seen in parks or gardens where they will forage around picnic tables looking for scraps and making a lot of noise. In winter, several groups may join up. Generally more common in inland areas but often seen at rest areas on the Bruce Highway.

For more information, email abriggs@irock.com.au



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