Backyard Buddies
Jacky Winter

Photo: Ken Stepnell/OEH

Jacky Winter

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The Jacky Winter's rapid 'chwit-chwit-chwit-chwit-peter-peterpeter' call can be heard clearly from quite a distance and you will start hearing it often from July each year, when they start to breed.

Jacky Winters, Microeca fascinans, are one of the only Australian songbirds to call so vigorously during winter. They are small insect eaters with three sub-species that live on mainland Australia and in south east New Guinea.

A good place to spot this small, grey-brown bird is perched on a dead branch, stump, post, fence, or wire. They so often frequent these spots that they're also known as 'post-sitters' or 'stump-birds.' Jacky Winters are tiny birds that grow up to 14 cm in length and weigh about 15 grams.

Jacky Winters love low and mid-level perches from which they can spring suddenly to catch flying insects. They then fling back around in mid-air at amazing speed and return to their original perch to eat.

During breeding, you will hear them calling frequently. They build small cup-shaped nests from grass and strips of bark, bound with spiders web. The nest is usually located on the fork of a dead branch in an exposed position, clear of leaves.

Look out for them amongst parks, pastures and farmland, especially near open woodland with shrub cover and lots of bare ground. The best times to spot them are during their dawn and dusk feeding times.

If you go out to do the garden, don't be surprised if a little Jacky Winter sits by and watches you.

They are opportunists that will dart out and eat up any insects you unearth. They're very cautious though, so they may not come too close.

Tip

 If you see Willie Wagtails or Restless Flycatchers feeding around your place, look out for Jacky Winters too. The Jacky Winter waits for insects disturbed by these larger and noisier birds, and swoops in to munch any insects the bigger birds don't notice.

Did you know?

In winter, Jacky Winters will look a lot fatter. This is because they puff up their feathers to protect themselves against the cold.

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Marcia - Grandparent & FNPW Supporter, QLD

Photo: OEH