I really enjoyed doing the A-Z series on animals and appreciate those that followed some or all of the posts and hope you enjoyed them. I decided, as I seldom have anything of importance to post on a personal basis, and because I enjoy doing it I am now going to do an A-Z series on birds. I will try to do mainly Australian birds or endangered species so here goes with another series for my own pleasure and hopefully the pleasure of others as well.
The Apostlebird (Struthidea cinerea) is a medium-sized dark grey bird with a short strong bill, brown wings and a long black tail tinted greenish in sunlight. The grey feathers on the head, neck and breast are brushed with paler grey-white and the wings are brownish. The legs and bill are black and the eyes brown or white.It measures around 33 cm (13 in) in length.
Originally described by ornithologist John Could in 1837, its specific epithet is Latin "cinerea" = 'grey'. (The bird was named by early settlers after the Biblical apostles who followed Christ. It was thought at that time the birds always gathered in groups of twelve ). This bird is normally seen in groups of six to ten birds, usually on the ground. It belongs to the group of birds known as 'mud-nesters', the Family Cororacidae, noted for their communal life style and their bowl nests constructed of mud and plant fibres.
This bird is found in eastern Australia in inland areas from lower Cape York Peninsula, Queensland to northern Victoria and from Naracoorte to Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia. There is also an isolated population in the Elliott and Katherine areas of the Northern Territory.
The Apostlebird is found in open dry forests and woodlands near water. It may also be found in farmlands with trees, as well as along roadsides, in orchards and on golf courses. As far as seasonal movements are concerned it is sedentary, with some local movements to more open areas in autumn and winter.
The Apostlebird usually eats seeds and vegetable matter, insects and other invertebrates and, sometimes, small vertebrates. In autumn and winter, it will move to more open country, where seeds become the more important part of its diet. It forages on the ground in groups, often in association with the white-winged Chough.
Apostlebirds form a 'breeding unit' of around ten related birds - a dominant male and several females plus immature birds (the previous season's young) that act as helpers. The nest is a large mud bowl, placed on a horizontal branch 3-20 metres high, and reinforced and lined with grass. All members of a group assist with nest building, as well as feeding of nestlings, while only the adults usually incubate the eggs. More than one female may lay eggs in the same nest. While many eggs may be laid usually only four nestlings will survive to fledge, with numbers possibly restricted by the size of the nest. Two broods may be raised in a season.
A mud nest high in a eucalypt tree.
The Apostlebird can become quite tame around farms, foraging with domestic poultry, and is common around camp sites. It can be seen dust-bathing by roadsides.
Not all the birds in this series will be endangered or even Australian. They could be Aussie birds that are not endemic to Western Australia so I will also be learning about birds of which I have little knowledge. Birds to me are such beautiful creatures.