Observing birdlife in wonderment (1)

Birds of a feather flock together: so it has been said. That is precisely what a large flock of rainbow lorikeets do in my back yard. They conduct a confabulation at about 10am. I assume that they had already indulged in a hearty breakfast of birdseed provided by my neighbours. The birds are brilliantly colourful.

From September on, the cohort of the year will be seen with their mothers; chubby babies will smooch slimmer mothers. A mum-&-bub show!

Some lorikeets are fearless. I once saw a currawong, a large black bird with a white stripe – which distinguishes it from a crow of the same size – land on my bird-bath. Its arrival scattered some of the lorikeets having a splash. However, a lorikeet nearest the currawong seemed to have decided to exert its right. When the currawong sought to have a drink, this lorikeet hopped closer, and pecked the currawong’s foot! The currawong must have been as surprised as I was.

When it looked down at the pecker, the latter hopped to safety. Again, when the currawong sought to drink, the lorikeet moved in, and pecked at the currawong’s foot. When this happened again, the currawong took off. Now the other birds, which had been perched on the rim of the bath, hopped into the water.

Equally aggressive as the lone lorikeet defender of community rights are small black -&-white birds, about double the size of the lorikeets, but half the size of magpies and currawongs. I do not know their name. They walk busily, nodding their heads. They clearly have no respect for the larger birds. Always paired, they will fly at any larger bird they see. The larger birds simply fly away.

Another bird I respect is the magpie, a black-&-white combination. When I was establishing my garden, after digging a hole under the watchful eye of a passing magpie, I would move away. This allowed the magpie to inspect the hole I had dug for a plant, to see if a worm was lurking there. Satisfied, it would walk away, allowing me to continue.

Normally, a magpie would saunter across my property with great style. I would understand its motive. It would be exercising its native title rights (a concept all Australians with a conscience would understand). The magpie does have a nice song.

Then there are the drab honey-eaters. Again, I do not know their names; but they are not identical. At about 4pm, the one with the sore throat will sit on the tree closest to my front door, and enjoy a soliloquy, but somewhat raucously.

I do live in a birdland.

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