Time for fan­tail chicks to leave

The Southland Times - - FEATURES - PAUL GAY NAT­U­RAL WORLD

This pho­to­graph was taken the night be­fore these two fan­tail chicks left the nest. They seemed to be quite rest­less and were flex­ing their wings.

One of them, as can be seen in the pho­to­graph, hopped up on to the side of the nest and while cling­ing to the nest be­gan to beat its wings as if fly­ing.

No­tice this bird’s tiny white tail. It was about 3cm long and would not grow to adult length for sev­eral months.

Fan­tails use their tails to make sharp turns while fly­ing and for dis­play pur­poses

The tails may cer­tainly as­sist in the cap­ture of in­sects but they are not es­sen­tial as adult fan­tails that have for some rea­son lost their tails have been ob­served fly­ing and catch­ing in­sects with­out too much trou­ble.

Fan­tails use three main meth­ods to catch in­sects.

‘‘Hawk­ing’’ is when they fly into a swarm of fly­ing in­sects, catch­ing as many as they can.

‘‘Flush­ing’’ is used in thick fo­liage when the fan­tail dis­turbs rest­ing in­sects be­fore catch­ing and eat­ing.

And ‘‘feed­ing as­so­ci­a­tions’’ oc­curs when a fan­tail fol­lows a larger bird or an­i­mal and catches in­sects that are dis­turbed.

Tram­pers in the bush are of­ten fol­lowed by fan­tails. Back to the young fan­tails in the nest.

At 10pm an­other pho­to­graph was taken. It was an in­ter­est­ing sight.

The mother fan­tail was sit­ting on one of the young­sters.

There was no room un­der her for the se­cond young­ster so it was perched on the rim of the nest with just its head tucked un­der its mother’s wing.

It didn’t look like a very rest­ful po­si­tion. Clearly, the nest was now too small for this fan­tail fam­ily.

Next morn­ing they were all gone.

The nest was empty.

The night be­fore the fan­tails left the nest.

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