Monday, 27 August 2012

Cooperative breeding moorhens

I dealt with the topic of cooperative breeding in Moorhens in a post before, but I hadn't got photos illustrating the behaviour. In Moorhens, young from the first brood of the year will often stay around and help rear the second - or third - batch, and this is more likely to happen in good quality territories. Moorhen chicks are very mobile, but they still rely on their parents, and helpers, for food. Yesterday, in a visit to a local farm, we had the chance to observe the behaviour up close. There were three moorhen chicks, two adults and a subadult individual in the carp pond. We noticed that the moorhens were very interested in fish food, so we ended up feeding the moorhens. One of the adults picked up pellets in its beak, up to three at a time and passed them to the immature, the immature fed on them, but it would also carry the food to the chicks. Instead of the adult feeding the chicks directly, the subadult was an intermediary, ferrying the food from parent to chicks.
 Given their liking for fish food and the presence of visitors feeding the fish during the breeding season in the farm, this appears to be a prime moorhen territory. The Moorhens are also very used to people and are very confiding.

The carp at the pond
Little chicks on the shore
Adult - right - with following chicks and subadult, left

The adult with food pellets
The adult passes the food to the subadult
The subadult feeds the chicks
Some chicks beg the adult for food

Friday, 17 August 2012

Growing shiny feathers

I watched a family of crows with two young a few days ago. One of the youngsters appeared to be having a 'nap' on the ground. I have only seen feral pigeons do this before, never in crows, so I took a shot. The crow immediately became nervous and started moving away, following another one. When checking the photo, I noticed that a few brand new, glossy black primary feathers can be told apart from the worn, dark brow, immature ones.