Gitie's blog

Wild Bird Shelly Magpie Walks Into The Cage On Request

Shelly magpie (left with injured wing) and sister Nelly magpie

Juvi magpies - Shelly (left) with sister Nelly at our back door.


Will a wild bird (never handled or hand fed) walk into a cage just because you ask her to?

Juvi magpie Shelly injured herself on the day of the terrible storms resulting in the inland tsunami in Toowoomba and the Lockyer valley. She didn't come down with her family for two days. Due to the heavy rains we couldn't go out into the neighbouring paddocks looking for her either. We thought she may have met a tragic end in the storms, but when the rains stopped briefly on the third day Ron went scouting and found her sitting still in a paddock. Relieved to find her alive, Ron and I would go out to the fields to feed her when we could.  A few days later she started to walk but after 3 weeks she still could not fly.  She could only climb up tree trunks by hopping along along fallen branches that were still leaning against them as in the picture below. 

Share this

Why Care About Bats? (Year of The Bat 2011-2012)

bats in cave art from the Icae age 20-25,000 years ago in the Kimberley region

(All pictures in this article: courtesy and Long Grass Wildlife Refuge)

Bats are among the earliest mammals, experts dating them back to around 50 million years. Cave paintings in the Kimberley's dating back to the last Ice Age which was around 20 - 25,000 years ago feature bats as can be seen in the above image.

Share this

Juvi Magpies Tumbling Around Like Puppies



Australian magpies Shelly and Nelly are about six months old. They are Vicky and Bertie's second set of kids.  They love playing around are backyard, tumbling around, playing tug-o-war, pouncing on crows and  bossing currawongs. Always on the alert, they are quick to chase goannas and snakes away or put out alarms of eagles soaring in the sky.

Share this

Year Of The Bat - Bats Are Our Allies

Year-of-the-bat-logoFlying Foxes and microbats are a much misunderstood animal and sadly much feared due to misinformation and negative stereotyping in legends and myths.

In reality, bats as they are commonly called (which refers flying foxes and microbats) are the world's only flying mammals and are allies of nature, being the the only pollinators of many species of trees and plants around the world.  Without them the these trees would cease to spread and many other species would also lose their habitat.!  Many species of bats are close to extinction due to loss of habitat and disease.


2011-2012 is the Year of The Bat.   This is an international campaign to help educate the world about the world's only flying mammals.  The campaign will also promote conservation and research efforts around the globe.  The campaign is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme, the Convention and Conservation of Migratory Species, EUROBATS and many partner organisations around the world. See for more details.

 Dr Merlin D. Tuttle is a leading conservationist who has studied bats for over 50 years. He is also an Dr Tuttle imageaward winning photographer and the founder of Bat Conservation International (BCI), which is an organisation dedicated to conservation, research and education of bats.  Merlin's Bats, Angel of Bats and The Secret World of Bats are some of his well known films that have been aired in over 100 countries.

In the article below first published on the Bank Of Natural Capital Dr Tuttle describes the unique role played by bats (please note: the copyright for all the photographs in this article belong to Dr Merlin Tuttle, Bat Conservation International,

Bat Pollinators: Tequila and The Tree of LIfe

Bats: Nature's Natural Pesticide

Bat Fertilizer

From Terror to Tourist Attraction

Year of the Bat 2011-2012


 Bats as Invaluable Allies

 by Dr Merlin D. Tuttle

(Republished with kind permission of Bank of Natural Capital)


bat eating pollen

(Copyright for all the photographs in this article belong to Dr Merlin Tuttle, Bat Conservation International,

Were you aware that bats are key pollinators in many parts of the world? Pollination is a vital ecosystem service without which many of our key industries such as agriculture and pharmaceuticals would collapse or incur heavy costs for artificial substitution. TEEB has found that in some estimates, over 75% of the worlds crop plants, as well as many plants that are source species for pharmaceuticals, rely on pollination by animal vectors.1


Share this

Mothers' Problems Affect Even Bird Kids

Baby magoue Wendy being fed mother magpie VickyA recent study has found that the social environment of mother quails has a direct influence on the growth and the behaviour of their young.

The research was performed by Floriane Guibert and Cecilia Houdelier at the CNRS-Universite de Rennes 1 in France, together with researchers at the INRA in Nouzilly, France and with Austrian scientists including Erich Mostl of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.

Some people are surprised to hear that quails (see picture of a family of quails in our back yard below) are able to distinguish one another, let alone that they form close relationships with other quails. From our observations here at, we've found that birds as small as thornbills, pardalotes and wrens have no trouble recognising each other,
While many have known for a long while that disruption of the birds' social environment causes them stress. The researching team has shown that changing the composition of groups of quails housed together causes the birds to behave more aggressively towards one another. The level of steroid hormones (corticosterone) in their blood also increases when their group composition is disrupted.   When the mothers were subjected to social stress of this kind the eggs they lay were found to have significantly higher levels of testosterone. 
These results are consistent with previous findings from other groups, which showed that House sparrows, American quail familycoots and Common starlings lay eggs with more testosterone when they breed in dense colonies than when they nest in isolation.

But the new work has also shown that the eggs of females under social stress hatch later and the chicks grow more slowly after hatching, at least for the first three weeks.
We've noticed with magpie and butcherbird clutches that when our mother birds friends Vicky (see top picture where baby magpie Wendy is being fed by mother Vicky magpie), HarrieButchie have been going through a period stress they eggs hatched much later than their counterparts across the valley and their chicks were also slower in developing.  The stress can be caused through harsh climate, strained relations with neighbouring clans, death in the family of a child, or partner. Once when we were away for five weeks during their normal breeding period, even though we had organised carers to refresh their water bowls and feed them  once a day (so they would not go without in the winter drought), our bird so stressed by our absence that they delayed having their clutch till after we returned. Their joy and relief at seeing us return was unmistaken.
Sources: by Tanya Thomas

Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien (2010, December 28). Parents' social problems affect their children -- even in birds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 6, 2011, from­/releases/2010/12/101227083745.htm
Share this


Subscribe to RSS - Gitie's blog