It’s happened. Our babies, only three weeks or so out of the nest, are now out there in the big wide world, killing for themselves. It brings a tear to your eye.
But it’s not all cheery dismemberment: there’s trouble in the nest. The siblings to have an uneasy relationship. I often see them perched on adjacent branches, and when they’re further apart they call out to each other every now and then. And when one takes off to hunt, the other often falls into line, disappearing suddenly in a simultaneous dive.
But there’s also a certain amount of what might be described in human siblings as petty jealousy.
Yesterday I stood on a chair on the deck for an hour watching one of the sibs engage in a comprehensive preening session / extended tai chi practice. I wonder whether this serious self-care might have been the consequence of getting tangled up in one of the humungous org spiders webs stretched out between the trees to catch dragonflies, cicadas and, for the really ambitious arachnid, a passing sparrowhawk.
I found the “revenge of the headless raptor” impressive, but his nestmate, looking on from a high branch, seemed rather unimpressed.
But both martial arts and sneering were set aside when the fledgling in the upper branches spotted something tasty beyond the neighbour’s yard.
There was a simultaneous stoop, and then a fracas in the jungle at the bottom of the garden.
I don’t think the squawking was the work of dinner – an unfortunate white-cheeked honeyeater (rarely seen in our yard. I wonder why…). I reckon the ring-ding battle was between the sibs.
This diffidence did not extend to the presence of little brother or sister though.
Just a few moments after the winner landed with their prize, there was another skirmish. Luck favours the prepared, and this youngster was in position, with wings spread out protectively around the prey like a sort of meat umbrella. Ew, what a nasty image.
The hungry one had another go, and to be honest, I’m not really sure who was successful, since neither juvenile has any distinctive marks (like a scar over one eye or a dragon tattoo or anything) I am completely unable to tell them apart.
Anyway, someone had a lovely meal of raw songbird and someone sat nearby looking on and feeling sorry for themselves.
Nevermind, buddy. I’m sure there’s be some tiny, tasty, rather slow birds on the menu for you sometime soon.
The backstory of the serial killers in our backyard…