|Australian Bush Birds|
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|Australian Reed-Warbler - Acrocephalus australis|
|Australian Reed-Warbler perched on a reed stem ready to dart out and grab an insect in flight over nearby open water. (Casino, NSW).|
|Reed-Warbler perched low on a reed stem close to the water (left photograph); the darker brown tail and wing contrast with the very pale, nearly white underside showing in the right photograph.|
The Australian Reed-Warbler - Aerocephalus australis - has a plain tawny-brown head and upper parts. Eyebrow is pale, there is a slightly darker line through the eye; face, throat and most of the under-parts are off white with buff or fawn tint. Flight and tail feathers are darker brown. Eye is brown, bill is brown with pink/buff lower mandible. Feet and legs are dusky. Males and females similar. 16-17 centimetres long. Immatures are darker brown.
Inhabits wetlands, especially rushes and reed beds in freshwater swamps, tall crops beside water, bamboo thickets, lantana beside water. An unobtrusive bird, living entirely within the cover of reeds. Clings to reed stems, often low down near the water pecking at insects near the waterline or foraging over fallen, floating debris and water plants for small aquatic animals.
Reclusive habits make this bird difficult to observe and photograph. Unless it chooses to perch on a reed stem at the edge of its reed bed territory and make an occasional flight out from the reeds to seize an insect in flight over nearby open water it is more often seen as glimpses of movement among reeds or near reed flowering heads.
|Australian Reed-Warbler - page 2|
Found over most of the Australian mainland, except for more arid parts of Western Australia and South Australia. Most southern birds fly north, to northern Queensland and the Kimberleys, for winter; some remain silent in their reed territories for the winter. In September-October the northern sojourners fly south for breeding in the south-east and south-west.
Pairs select small territories in reed beds. An example is given of territories as small as 300 square metres (i.e. sides of 10 by 30 metres). Although males are quiet in winter, during breeding time they sing loudly and frequently during the day and into the night. While singing, males raise their crown feathers.
Breeding takes place between September and February. The nest is a deep cup of interwoven strips of reeds and rushes lined with fine grass and feathers, firmly attached to two or more upright reeds or to willow dropping stems. It has been speculated that the deep cup shape of the nest ensures eggs will not fall out if the supporting reeds bend in the wind.
Three or four eggs are laid, faint blue to pale buff, freckled and spotted brown and lavender; long-oval, about 20 by 14 millimetres. Incubated by the female for 14 to 15 days. Young fledge in 14 to 16 days.
Formerly considered to be the Australian subspecies of the Clamorous Reed-Warbler Aerocephalus stentoreus, this is now widely regarded as species A australis.