Cape Wagtail Fledglings

The windy season in the Cape has arrived with a vengeance.  The South Easterlies pump in over the south Atlantic hurling in at gale force and are ever challenging for the residents of the Peninsula.    Here in our backyard a small drama unfolds as three fledgling Cape wagtails battle to cope with the elements.  As it happens the yard is a sheltered haven, but risky in that the downdrafts have an equally upward motion, and the first of the fledglings out of the nest got scooped up and deposited way downstream.  The other two luckily, landed plump-side up and have stayed within the confines  of the walls for the last couple of days, trying out short flight paths between the garden terraces.  We admire their hard-working industrious parents who must provide the meals.   The whole process of choosing the nesting site, to construction material highlights their experience in parenting skills.

The first sighting of the chicks was 10 October.
The nest is built in a sturdy yucca,  and here is the first sighting of the chicks on 21 October.

This is their second brood of the season, the first hatch produced one strong, rotund dumpling of a chick.  It was independent within a fortnight and thereafter the parents went straight back to producing their next hatch.

Flying lessons
Flying lessons

Their wings appear to be perfectly formed for flight, although their tail feathers must still increase in length.

Two of the chicks puffed up and secure, waiting for their next snack.
Two of the chicks, waiting for their next snack.

The parents worked hard that first day, relaying food to the two above as well as locating the chick which had been whisked away by the wind.   By nightfall they managed to ‘fly’ it back to the nest.

Lunch - a good mouthful of moth.
Lunch – a good mouthful of moth.

Both parents are providing a variety of insects including –  moths, worms, coachroaches, flies, ants.

No hanging around in queues here, the quickest trumps.
No hanging around in queues here, the quickest trumps.
Crunchy roaches, all part of an insectivore's diet.
Crunchy roaches, all part of an insectivore’s diet.

Robert’s Birds of South Africa record that incubation averages 13 -14 days; nestlings 14 – 21 days – both parent feed.  Two broods a year are recorded in the Cape, while generally three in Gauteng.

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19 thoughts on “Cape Wagtail Fledglings

    1. Yes, extraordinary instincts… and persistence/ perseverance. A few weeks back we had one hell of a storm which caused much damage and yet the parents managed to weather that as well, all the while keeping up with providing a menu of tasty insects.

  1. Beautiful little glimpse into the lives of this lovely family. Thank-you! I was so pleased to hear that mum and dad managed to find their lost baby and get him or her safely home.

  2. I’m going to send this post (and hopefully an ongoing relationship with your blog) to two sometimes-homesick South Africans I’ve recently met. Your blog makes me see what they miss.

  3. Wonderful photos. We are fortunate to be blessed with a wagtail nest outside our garage. I feel terrible every time we arrive home or go out as it disturbs the birds. Nevertheless, they always return.

    It will be our first nest of any kind and we have 3 eggs!!!! My daughter of 4 is super excited. I came accross your blog hoping to find something to show her and off course what to expect in the next few weeks.

    Well it felt like I hit the jackpot with your stunning photos. She cant wait to see our chicks although I think we probably have 10days plus to go.

    Thank you for the grate info, we are waotong in anticipation for our chicks to hatch.

    1. Thanks for the comments, Natasha. Wonderful to read that you have a budding little ornithologist there with your 4 year old! You’re in for a treat observing the next stages 🙂 Watch out for the ‘poop’ scoop maneouvre, and the amazing variety of insects on the menu.

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