Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Pardalotes put on a show at Muckleford Station

Posted on 19 September, 2017 by Tanya Loos

The local U3A birdwatching group visited Muckleford Train Station last week, and were entranced by a large flock of Striated Pardalotes displaying and carrying on in very close proximity. Local birdo and photographer Peter Turner captured a stunning series of images, and kindly sent them in so we could share them with you all!

One of the behaviours that intrigued Peter is a display which involves the pardalote bowing slightly, opening both wings and spreading its tail. Many of the pardalotes were displaying in this way, and Peter asked what the behaviour might mean.

Displaying on the train tracks

Here at the office, we have a copy of a large detailed book known as the Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (HANZAB) The entry on Striated Pardalotes details this behaviour.

The Wing-and-tail Display is associated with nesting behaviour. As the Striated Pardalote sexes are very difficult to tell apart, it is not known whether the male or the female or both sexes are displaying. The display may involve quivering the wings, or fanning them by alternately opening and folding them.


Three pardalotes watch one pardalote’s display with much interest.

The Wing-and-tail Display is often part of a group display, where several pairs that are nesting in close proximity display to one another.

The Muckleford Station is a Striated Pardalote breeding hotspot – with many nest burrows  excavated in the clay soil near the platform.

Striated Pardalotes also take readily  to nestboxes, in fact previously on this blog, we featured a pardalote nestbox design by Ric Higgins; for details, click  here.

While Spotted Pardalotes are loved by many, these photographs remind us that the Striated Pardalotes are little stunners too. Thanks so much for the photos, Peter!




7 responses to “Pardalotes put on a show at Muckleford Station”

  1. John Burtonclay says:

    I think the wing spreading is aggression. I used to think maybe it’s a courtship display because it only happens when there are several birds around a nest box. One day I saw 2 birds get stuck into it and fell to the ground attacking each other. It’s probably competition for ownership of the nest site. Because of this, I put up more nest boxes, but they still argue.

  2. Kevin Nemeth says:

    I regularly ride the bike from Castlemaine to Maldon. Always stop at Muckleford Station for a drink and a look of the pardalotes, especially if it’s early in the morning and they’re sunning themselves. However, this morning, no pardalotes, at least none that I could spot.
    The pardalotes appear to use holes in the foundations of the platform for nesting sites. Yet the Goldfields Railway have parked some carriages in the short siding at the station and I think it would very difficult, if not impossible, for the pardalotes to get to those sites.
    Maybe you can go to the station sometime and tell me what you think. I hope I’m not talking crap here.
    Would it be worth informing the Goldfields Railway what they’ve inadvertently done?

    • Tanya Loos says:

      Hi Kevin! Thanks for your observation – the carriages could indeed be in the way, but the pardalotes are pretty small and determined as well! The good news is that it is the end of breeding season, being autumn. I would be more inclined to notify Goldfields if the carriages were still there in July/ August when breeding recommences – but up to you!

  3. Gayle says:

    A pair of spotted pardalotes are in the process of making home in our no 1 compost bin so we are using no 2 now! This is at Campbells Creek.

  4. Frances Wade says:

    Wonderful pix! A few years ago we had the privilege of having a pair nesting in the wall just behind our bedhead. (This was in Welshmans Reef on the Maldon-Newstead Road; I had a sleeping loft in the cottage, and the roof of the carport outside was about level with it, so they had a nice little tunnel to nest in.)
    There were spotted pardalotes with a burrow in a pile of dirt near the front gate, but that was raided and of course the pile of dirt didn’t stay there for long.
    In the night we’d hear them fluttering gently and making soft little ‘nesty’ chirps. Eventually the local brushtail possum got them.
    Then the next year a weebill family nested in a tree lucerne near the kitchen window and we had the rare opportunity to actually get a look at them, sitting quietly on the porch with a pair of binocs. The tree was blown down some months later.
    that was the end of that.

    • Tanya Loos says:

      Thanks for your observations frances! I do hope your nesting birds have better luck this spring/ summer! It is a hard life for little bush birds, isn’t it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

« | »