The screams in the sky

We are lucky in this country, along with South America, to have lots of parrots. They are beautiful and (unless they are eating your farmed crops) endearing. And noisy. And even noisier in large groups.

Towards dusk last night, we could hear  yellow-tailed black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus funereus) coming down the valley from afar, like black angels calling out their descent with very distinctive and loud “kee AWWW”s. You can hear the call on the Birds in Backyards website here. The pine trees are presently producing cones, and about 30 birds turned up to shred them for their seeds.

yellow tails_2

Yellow-tailed black cockatoos feasting on pine cones

Yellow-tailed black cockatoos feasting on pinecones

The top bird does not have a misshapen beak but is carrying a pine cone

Another bird around the place in groups at the moment is the white-headed pigeon (Columba leucomela). These big chubby fruit-eating native pigeons were in the olive tree even though there are no olives at the moment. We more often see them pottering around on the ground in a pair.

White headed pigeons_3

White-headed pigeons

There is a lot of controversy about the introduced camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora), which has been spreading rapidly in this area for several decades. It is a large beautiful tree, but produces thousands of seeds that germinate easily in our subtropical climate, so much so that it has been declared a noxious weed in some areas. Many were planted as shade trees in school grounds and as street trees. There is some thought that the berries are toxic to wildlife, but the white-headed pigeons and other birds seem to thrive on them.

It often forms single species communities and excludes most other tree species, including desirable native vegetation. It’s going to be impractical to cut down all the camphors, although many bush regenerators are keen on that, so I guess the pigeons will continue to enjoy the fruit of the camphor laurel for the foreseeable future.

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3 Responses to The screams in the sky

  1. peonyden says:

    Nice to see the Black Cockies in a neat group. I get them here, but our Pine trees are so large and so old that they are hard to photograph. You have done well.
    Camphor Laurels are 20 metre high weeds. Nice looking trees, and certainly the Pigeons love them, but seeds germinate very freely indeed, having passed through a Pigeon’s gut.

    • Joy Window says:

      Thanks, Denis. The birds usually sit in silhouette against the sky, which is very hard to photograph. Luckily I had time to grab the camera after hearing them coming. Camphors are certainly a problem for native vegetation.

  2. janebeau says:

    I just loved visiting homes in Aus where a very ordinary bird table wpuld produce cockatoos, galahs et al. My favourite moment was seeing a sulphur-crested cockatoo flying calmly through the centre of Sydney and perching on a street pole. x j

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