I have very mixed feelings about our South East Queensland Summers; all that heat and humidity. I found it particularly trying when I first came to Bribie and made my feelings quite clear to my longsuffering husband. However, there are, and were compensations. The birds are beautiful, and the birdbath and feeder that we got for Xmas came into their own.
The bath was an instant success with many birds using it for drinking and for taking a cooling plunge, but it took them a little longer to work out how to use the feeder. Eventually, some avian Einstein solved the problem, and then we had Pale Headed Rosellas, turquoise and yellow, Scaly Breasted Lorikeets, green and gold, and Rainbow Lorikeets, purple, green, gold and scarlet, all taking their turn to feast.
My husband and I loved to watch them as they impatiently waited their turn to join the honeyeaters, butcherbirds and magpies in the bath. Visiting the trees in the yard were mobs of white Corellas, a smaller version of the Cockatoo and just as noisy. Competing with the Corellas were the beautiful pink and soft-grey Galahs, my particular favourite. The magnificent Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos gave notice of their occasional visits by the distinctive loud cracking of the Banksia and Cassia nuts on which they fed.
Feeding on the ground, looking for seeds, were the Crested Pigeons with their iridescent green and purple wings, and their companions the Peaceful Doves. Our neighbours are disparaging about the Ibis that visit us looking for free hand-outs, but I feel their long-curved beaks give these mendicants a very “snooty” demeanour which I find quite charming. Their lack of any road sense is only rivalled by the Pheasant Coucal.
This beautiful bronze bird spends most of its time on the ground and can run like the wind, but on approaching a road, it will make a suicidal low flight at about the level of car headlights, giving the driver no chance of avoiding the unfortunate but foolish bird. The Noisy Miners or mickey birds, with their distinctive yellow patch behind the eye and bright yellow beak offsetting their otherwise grey plumage, were always present in great numbers.
Don and I would refer to them as “thug birds” due to their habit of dive-bombing us or other birds during their breeding season. Each year Australian Brush Turkeys adopted us. These are mound builders. The males, distinguished by their red wattles, build a large mound of dead leaves and other litter, whilst the females lay the eggs within the mound. The eggs are temperature controlled by the male, either by heaping on more leaves or removing the same.
We called all our turkeys Scratch due to their habit of looking for berries, seeds, and leaves underneath our trees by scratching the earth. When our grandsons were young, they loved our birds but especially Scratch whom Marcus would chase and try to envelop in a bear hug. He failed to understand why his affection was not reciprocated. The sounds of the garden were equally delightful.
The Butcher Bird’s and Magpie’s piping song, the Kookaburra’s morning reveille, the Lorikeets shrill calls when they wheeled in large numbers as a call came up warning of a raptor overhead, or at sunset prior to roosting for the night, the constant soft woo-ing of the crested pigeons as they kept up their perpetual courtship.