BRIGGSY’S BIRDS: Brolgas nature’s best dancers
TO SEE brolga dancing is one of the most thrilling sights of nature.
A pair will mate for life and their bonds are strengthened during elaborate courtship displays, which involve much dancing, leaping, wing-flapping and loud trumpeting.
These displays can occur throughout the year but are more frequent when breeding. An isolated territory is established for breeding and is vigorously defended by both partners.
This will usually happen on a small island in a wetland, swamp or shallow waterway.
The nest is a mound of vegetation where they lay two eggs.
Both parents incubate the eggs and care for the young.
When threatened by a predator, such as a fox, the parents will pretend to have a broken wing and lure the predator away from the nest while the chicks hide.
After the breeding season they will gather in large flocks of several hundred which is thought to enhance predator protection with many eyes keeping watch and many bodies roosting together at night helps to keep them warm.
The Brolga belongs to the crane family and can be found across northern Australia and down the east coast as far as Victoria.
Their long legs allow them to walk through shallow water and plunge their head underwater to dig out roots and tubers which they feed on.
They will also visit cropping paddocks after harvesting to feed on spilt grain.
Standing at 1.3 metres and with a wingspan of 2.4 metres the brolga is one of our largest birds.
Unfortunately loss of habitat due to the draining of wetlands has resulted in a decline of the population, especially in southern Australia. Barolin Nature Reserve and cropping paddocks are good places to see them.
Allan Briggs is the secretary of BirdLife Capricornia. Contact him with your bird questions at email@example.com.