Widow Wonga is a bird very close to my heart….and is loved just as much by my husband Rob. She and her partner have been living and rearing chicks in our Blackheath garden over a very long period, sometimes producing several sets of twins a year.
I apologize in advance for any anthropomorphizing, but it’s hard not to do it with Wongas as they have such character.
These endearing birds mate for life. Sadly, something happened to the male about twelve months ago. He was probably taken by a fox or a marauding cat. Here they are in happier times.
After an extended period of mourning, our sweet widow decided life must go on. She sat up on her old nest high in a conifer and for a couple of weeks she called and called. Eventually two likely prospects turned up and followed her about. We were quite excited on her behalf.
The more ardent of the suitors took to flying up to the nest; for a pre nuptial inspection I guess. Now Wongas are rather bulky, and they don’t like to fly more than they have to. To make life easier this fellow took to walking up our sandstone front steps, then along the second floor balcony railing to his ‘launch pad’.
One fateful day on his descent from the nest, he misjudged his flight path and crashed into a window, thankfully side on rather than head on. We were having a bookcase installed upstairs at the time, and the noise of the impact was so loud I thought one of the men had dropped a shelf! Mr Wonga lost quite a few wing feathers and must have had very sore ribs. We were relieved to see him stand up, then fly to the branches of a Japanese Maple. After a period of recovery he disappeared, never to be seen again.
Unfortunately the widow’s second suiter got cold feet after the drama and he left as well. So our beloved Mrs Wonga remains a lonely soul, plodding around the garden paths (much as I do myself). Sometimes she tries calling, but not very often. I wonder whether she feel’s she’s too old to bother? Let’s face it, she has contributed enormously to the Wonga population of the Blue Mountains over the years.
Nevertheless, it’s sobering to think we may never see chicks like this again;
I thought I should end this piece on a more positive note.
Recently our normally feisty bowerbirds allowed the widow to share their feast of white ant larvae at the woodheap. I like to think they are gazing at her with compassion. Wongas are almost exclusively vegetarian, but no bird seems able to resist these tiny white grubs.
UPDATE – It has been raining today and suddenly I noticed Mrs Wonga sitting on the deck under the eaves trying to stay dry. I didn’t want to disturb her, but unfortunately, I had to open the front door and she immediately hopped up on the railing. It’s good that she remains so wary, because as ground feeders these birds are very vulnerable. But oh dear me, what a sad sight! 😥
Meanwhile, we have to remember to cover up any reflective surfaces.
SOMETIMES THERE IS A HAPPY ENDING
OCTOBER 14 – 2023 Guess what? The dear Widow finally found a new mate. Here he is about a week ago, about to fly up for his turn looking after the nestling. There are usually two, but not this time.
Yesterday Mrs Wonga brought her single chick down to our deck. Its flying was pretty wobbly and it nearly landed on me. 😍 I told Mrs Wonga how beautiful her baby was, and how proud we are of her.