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Birds of Australia - species that build mud nests

Mud nests are durable and therefore valuable assets that can potentially be re-used. Even if not used directly, as a nest, they can at least serve as the platform on which to build one's own stick nest (see below).

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Apart from various species of swallows and martins, for which this type of nest is typical, there are three additional mud-nesting bird species in Australia.

View into a Magpie-lark nest with 4 eggs in it
[Eulah Creek, NSW]

Apostlebird on its nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2008]

White-winged Chough on its nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2011]

The effort that has gone into their construction sometimes makes mud nest the "bone of contention" between interested species. We have observed squabbles about nests a number of times. The audio recording below is just one example.

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

In September 2014 we recorded the following sequence of calls, when a mob of White-winged Choughs had to defend its nest against a mob of interfering Apostlebirds. A pair of Magpie-larks, who are always under threat of having their nests pinched by Apostlebirds, also joined the melee.

mudnest_20140925.mp3 (NW NSW) Squabbling over White-winged Chough nest © MD

Indirect re-use

Here two examples of indirect re-use of a mud nest.

In one case, Common Bronzewings have built their basic stick nest on an old White-winged Chough mud nest.

Male Common Bronzewing sitting on its nest, which is built ontop of a re-used White-winged Chough nest
[Leard State Forest, NSW, November 2012]

In the second case, White-breasted Woodswallows are re-using a Magpie-lark mud nest, probably also putting a small stick nest inside the mud bowl. This behaviour was also reported to us by A. Morris.

White-breasted Woodswallow sitting on its nest, which is built ontop of a re-used Magpie-lark nest
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2013]

It is also known that Striated Pardalotes will occasionally re-use Fairy Martin mud nests.

This Fairy Martin nest (the one with the bottle shape right at the centre) was re-used by a pair of Striated Pardalotes
[Dripping Rock, near Maules Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Clustered nesting

When there is such a commotion as can be heard in the recording above, the situation is not always competitive. We have observed several species taking part in what might be described as "clustered (or semi-colonial) nesting".

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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