As I stood in the kitchen chopping food for lunch, I noticed frantic flapping in the cat enclosure. The trapped bird was a Yellow-Faced Honeyeater which must have come in through the lattice fence. Small birds are able to hop through the squares created by the lattice which forms the side wall of the fernery. This one had ventured out into the back yard, and could not find its way back again.
Initially, I tried to slowly herd the bird into the fernery, so that it could learn to find its own way in and out. The honeyeater kept flying past me, trying to find a gap in the cat netting. Ten minutes into the attempted rescue, I took these photos, when I saw that it was getting tired and needed to rest. According to Pizzey and Knight’s ‘Field Guide to the Birds of Australia‘ the markings on male and female Yellow-Faced Honeyeaters are the same, so I don’t know if this particular bird was a male or a female.
After another ten minutues, I gave up on trying to herd the frightened bird back into the fernery, and looked for an alternative solution. A butterfly-net-sizeed gold-fish net caught my eye. I’m not sure if the bird had been netted before, but as soon as it saw me with a net, it kept landing nearby. Somehow, I think it knew I was trying to help it. The honeyeater was obviously getting tired, and sat still while I placed the rim of the net around its landing spot, then gently held the bird (still inside the net) in my hand to transport it to the gate – and freedom. While it would obviously have been terrified, the honeyeater, back cradled into my hand, didn’t move a muscle. As soon as I took my hand away, the bird flew high into the trees near the dam – trilling noisily all the way.
Yesterday afternoon, when I loaded the photos onto my computer, I was amazed at how fragile the honeyeater looked in my images. I love the delicate tail feathers which look translucent as they fan out on the cat netting. What a beautiful bird!