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Paradise fly-catcher

Ok, here it is. My first blog. I was wondering what I should write on my blog. There are so many things to write about and I was playing around with a few ideas.

To really photograph wildlife successfully, it is very important to do a study of wild animals and birds’ behavior. That’s why I decided to write a series about just that.

Know your subject

There are so many lessons we as humans can learn in nature. It is a non-stop source of knowledge. If I take a look back at my career as a Wildlife/Nature photographer, photography comes second. Knowing the animal, what their next move might be is absolutely critical. The animal behavior is the most important part. As a photographer, at least for a while, set aside the camera and really get to know your subject. Then you can plan how to take the photos. Plan the direction of the sun. The angle from where you can take the best shots and what time of the day will be the best. Get your camera setting ready. This will help you get that “wow “shots without being surprised.

Building the nest

This blog is about the Paradise fly-catcher. We watched them for about two months. We studied them from where they started to build their nest up to where the chicks arrived and where they started to raise them.

Paradise Fly Catcher
Paradise Fly Catcher

I always wondered how they built their nest so strong and compact. As we watched them I was amazed. They started by weaving the nest with small pieces of grass. Then every now and then the female will sit on the nest to ‘fit’ it.

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After they finished with the weaving of the grasses, they started to collect pieces of moss from tree bark and glue it to the outside of the nest. Then they would go and steal spider web and they would sow everything together with the spider web strings. That is how they get this nest so strong.

Feeding the chicks

When they were finished with the building of their nest, they started with the breeding. We left them alone for three weeks and after the three weeks the eggs were hatched. It was absolute teamwork between the male and female to feed the chicks. One day the female arrived with an unbelievably big moth. I was wondering how she’s going to get that big moth down the chicks’ little throat. But to my surprise, she did not feed him to one chick alone. She squeezed out a bit of guts into one beak, then some more in another’s beak and some more in the third ones beak. She then flew away with the exoskeleton of the moth to get rid of it somewhere else.

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Cleaning up

What I also noticed was that there was no bird droppings lying around in the area of the nest. If one of the chicks wanted to go ‘to the toilet’, he would give a signal to the female. As he would do his thing, she would take the droppings in her mouth and fly away with it to get rid of it somewhere else. They do that to protect the baby chicks from predators, because the droppings around the nest area will draw predators to the nest and put the chicks at risk.

One question that came to mind was: Who taught them to behave like that? Who taught them to build the nest in that way? The only answer I could think of was that there is a Creator that programmed it into their genes.

About taking the photographs

My first priority was to not disturb the birds. I was worried that they might abandon their nest.

I waited until they were not there. Then I fixed my camera with a flash on a tripod. I chose the best possible position under the circumstances for composition without disturbing them. I pre-focused on the nest. The nest was under large shadow. I fitted a remote release to my camera and set the correct exposure. I then stood back a distance from where I could see them. I sat there and waited for the right moment to take the photos.