Many urban parks, playgrounds and streets contain Fig Trees, many of them the native Morton Bay Fig, and this is the time of the year when they produce a multitude of small yellow fruits.
Australasian Figbirds, as their name suggests, love them.
They descend in flocks of up to 50 birds on any tree that shows the slightest hint of ripening figs, and stay until the fruit is exhausted, before moving on to another fruity source.
While feeding they often, like parrots, hang from twigs and branches to get the best fruit.
However, while figs are their favourite food, they will happily munch on any fruiting tree and will also eat insects found in the tree canopy.
In my backyard, Figbirds feed on the Tuckeroo seed pods and are also fond of Guavas.
Seed eaten by the birds often pass undigested through the bird and are able to germinate and establish new food trees.
Male Figbirds have a striking appearance and are easily identified by the warty bare red skin around the eye.
They also have a black crown with grey neck and throat and an olive-green back and wings.
The female is much plainer with grey skin around the eye and brownish green plumage above with a dull white chest, streaked with brown.
Both sexes have a black bill, which distinguishes them from the red bill of Orioles, to whom they are closely related.
Figbirds occur across the coastal regions of north and eastern Australia from the Kimberly to the Victorian border. They live in rainforests, wet sclerophyll forests and urban parks and gardens with suitable trees.
They are gregarious, feeding and nesting in groups and their constant chatter while feeding is often the first indication that they are present. Figbirds have many different calls and often imitate the calls of other birds. A common call is a loud descending “chew”.
Breeding season is from October to February and birds nest semi-colonially, occupying trees adjacent to each other.
The nest is cup-shaped and is built of vine tendrils and twigs in a horizontal fork on the outer tree canopy.
Three eggs are laid and the chicks are cared for by both parents. Often other male birds will come and feed the chicks as well.