Welcome Swallow uses Maned Duck’s feathers to line nest

“In November 2013, we were having our lunch in a sheltered area of Eyre Gardens, Albany, West Australia when a pair of welcome swallows (Hirundo neoxena) kept swooping around us and landing on a ledge under the roof. Splotches of white stains could be seen on the floor. This piqued our curiosity and we found a nest built on a ledge under the roof. Four young chicks with very wide mouths were clearly visible.

“A few feathers stuck upright to the nest and waving gently in the wind attracted our attention as they had faint barred lines on them. The feathers were too large to have come from the parent birds. We were quite certain that feathers from other birds had been used to decorate the nest. We had no idea what birds had feathers with faint barred lines.

“The whole garden was teeming with different species of ducks and Eurasian Coots.

“While viewing our holiday videos on the computer, we recognised the feathers lining the swallow nest on the grey wings of the male Maned Ducks (Chenonetta jubata). The ducks have mottled breasts and the head is goose-like but they are the size of ducks. However, the Maned Ducks we viewed on the computer were filmed in Perth.

“Do the ducks’ feathers exude a smell that mask the odour of the swallow chicks?”

Teo Lee Wei & K.
17th December 2013

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