Pardalotes tunneling

Spotted Pardalotes nest in tunnels that they dig using their bills and feet – it’s remarkable that such tiny birds are such effective excavators.


Spotted Pardalote 1 - Kim Wormald

Spotted Pardalote ~ female
Canon 5DIII, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 1600


I was enjoying a spring stroll with a friend last weekend when a pardalote darted across the pathway and perched above us. I glanced down and the freshly disturbed earth at the mouth of a small tunnel was an obvious give away. We walked further along the track before climbing the opposite bank and nestling ourselves among the plants for a few moments.

In the image above the female is emerging from the tunnel with earth on her bill. Several years ago Spotted Pardalotes burrowed into a pile of earth in my garden and once the fledglings had flown I was able to photograph the nest itself, which I’ve shared in an earlier post: Spotted Pardalotes


Spotted Pardalote 2 - Kim Wormald

Spotted Pardalote ~ female
Canon 5DIII, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 1600


The female briefly perched outside of the next and glanced towards us when she heard the soft click of the shutter button which I had set to ‘silent shooting’. Females have subtler markings that the males but are still exquisitely beautiful.


Spotted Pardalote 5 - Kim Wormald

Spotted Pardalote ~ female
Canon 5DIII, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 1600


She went straight back to work using her feet to throw soil behind her. Sometimes all we saw was soil flying out of the tunnel.


Spotted Pardalotes - Kim Wormald

Spotted Pardalote ~ male and female
Canon 5DIII, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 1600


At one point both the male and female flew to the tunnel entrance, the male is on the left. They have chosen a fairly busy pathway for their nest so I hope their habit of darting quickly from the mouth of the tunnel will keep them safe from passing dogs.


Spotted Pardalote 4 - Kim Wormald

Spotted Pardalote ~ male
Canon 5DIII, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 1600


The lighting was poor along the pathway, hence the slow shutter speed and high ISO. The male watched us briefly as he preened in the branches on the opposite bank. These images were taken at a long focal length and are heavily cropped.

Last year I posted images of another pardalote couple in a post called Pardalotes and granulated sugar.

Signs of spring bring me joy, I hope they have the same effect on you.

Happy birding, Kim


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