Two little tackers

Two little tackers in the Aussie bird world are the Golden-headed Cisticola and the Superb Fairy-wren.


Golden-headed Cisticola - Kim Wormald

Golden-headed Cisticola (Cisticola exilis) – calling
1/2000, f6.3, ISO 800


The Golden-headed Cisticola is about 10cm long and weighs about 10g. They are my nemesis bird. I’ve had them in my sights numerous times but am yet to absolutely nail an image. The bird above was a long way from me and I didn’t realise until loading the images that I’d only zoomed in part way – there’s always something! Anyways, the image made me smile and perhaps I’ll do better next time I’m lucky enough to see one of these lovely little birds.

During the breeding season the head of the male cisticola becomes a bright golden orange and it will often raise its crest when singing. They feed on insects and seeds at ground level, among long grasses and reeds. The word cisticola is pronounced with the emphasis on the second and fourth syllables … hmm, trying to explain how to pronounce the word, without being ambiguous or using linguistic symbols is beyond me. If you’d like to double-check your pronunciation have a listen to the audio on this link: Cisticola


Superb Fairy-wren - Kim Wormald

Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) – preening
1/500, f5.6, ISO 3200


Fairy-wrens are an iconic favourite Australian species; their high-pitched trills and chatters are welcome sounds in bushland, parks and gardens. Fairy-wrens weigh the same as cisticolas but are 3-4cm longer, thanks in part to the tail. They are more comfortable foraging out in the open than cisticolas.

I liked the detail of the tiny plants on the fairy-wren’s perch and decided to make the image monochrome so the textures of the perch and the bird’s feathers were emphasised. I particularly like preening images as it’s clear that the bird is not feeling stressed by the photographer, and I like the way this bird’s bill is sweetly nestled among its feathers.

Sadly Superb Fairy-wrens have become less common in suburban areas, with predation by cats being of particular concern. These fairy-wrens generally nest on the ground, building their tiny, domed nests among grasses and reeds. Some local shires and councils have been proactive in regulating for cats to be contained at their owner’s premises, studies have shown that this approach is beneficial for both cats and wildlife, it’s good to have a win-win solution.

Happy birding, Kim


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