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Inspiring and Supporting Photographers of Australian Birds

Little Raven, Willie Wagtail

Little Raven, Willie Wagtail (Image ID 42667)
Photographed byMichael Hamel-Green on Wed 30th Sep, 2020 and uploaded on Sat 3rd Oct, 2020 .
Resolution1400x883
Viewed55
ID42667
CommentWillie Wagtails have much to worry about, especially during the nesting season, and not least the presence of ravenous nest-raiding ravens. In this case, I watched as a Little Raven, probably juvenile from its pink gape, landed in a bare tree too close to what was evidently the Wagtail’s nest precinct. The Wagtail first landed on a branch across from the Raven and gave it a hostile stare. The Raven show no sign of moving, so the Wagtail began a series of swoops at it, with the young Raven angrily ark-arking in response. This is one such swoop with the ridiculously tiny but courageous bird pitching itself against the huge enemy intruder, the bird world’s equivalent of David against Goliath. After many such swoops, the Raven gave up and fled the scene. As Grainne Cleary notes in her wonderful recent book, “Your Backyard Birds” (2019), there is an Aboriginal Noongar Dreamtime story about the wagtail as a great hunter ‘who was one day robbed of his catch by Wardong the crow and Dwerda the dingo’, and that the wagtail “never forgot this crime and this is why it still angrily attacks crows and dogs much bigger than itself” (p183). The photo illustrates both the pink gape that probably marks it as a juvenile and the spiky throat hackles that become raised when the raven is uttering its ark-arks.
EquipmentNikon Z7 with Nikon 300mm PF f/4 telephoto
ISO 640
1/4000th f8
LocationCoburg Lake Reserve, Coburg, Victoria
Keywordsjuvenile, behaviour/display
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