"A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song." ~ Chinese Proverb
Or so the saying goes, played out especially in the typical Australian backyard. I've been posting photos on my personal Facebook page of all the birds that have been visiting our yard here in south east Queensland and it occurred to me this might be of interest to my blog readers in other parts of the world.
We have so many different types of birds coming here, 17 species at last count, that I might take a blog entry for each one to adequately do them justice.
|Rainbow Lorikeet feeding on the blossoms of a Golden Pender tree|
The Brashter and I have lived here for six and a half years and for most of that time have taken the bird life for granted. We have a large and very private yard with many tall and bushy trees, a lot of which are flowering, creating good food sources and cover for birds and no doubt hidey holes for nests and other top secret birdie activities.
This year we decided to encourage the frequent flyers, so to speak, by putting out a little bit of food. Well, it started as a few table scraps and has escalated into a full buffet with nectar trays, seed, bread, hanging baskets and two parrot stands. When I get home from work just before lunch I can usually find a few birds giving me the eagle-eye waiting for me to clean and top up their trays.
|A shy Blue-headed Honeyeater|
The dynamics of the birds' relationships is intriguing; not only how different species interact but the interactions between individuals of the same species.
In the house where my brother and I grew up it was nothing to hear a cacophony of birdsong all day long, starting just before dawn with the mocking laugh of half a dozen kookaburras and ending only at dusk with the mournful calls of stormbirds. Even now hearing a stormbird takes me right to our back patio at home, smelling the first drops of rain from a summer storm and feeling them plink on my face.
We had a big flock of scaly-breasted lorikeets, affectionately known as greenies, who would swoop in and jostle for position on feeding trays we held out for them or crawl over our heads and shoulders when others pushed them off.
We even had a hand-raised Eastern Rosella named Peter who had the run of the house. He stayed with us for a long time; even after he eventually flew away to join his kind he would occasionally return and sit and watch us from the clothes line or an upturned bucket in the yard.
It was not lost on us that this intimate contact is a privilege tourists go to parks to pay for; that what we took for granted and had largely ceased to be amazed by was jaw-dropping and mind-bending to so many people who had never been this close to a wild thing or who had never seen such a colourful bird before except in a book or on the TV. And so it is now; I try and let it freshly amaze and surprise me every day that these innocent and completely free creatures can come in and be trusting enough to sit eating at times just inches from our feet.
I look at it as a kind of coexistence. We've claimed so much of the habitat of these birds through simply building our homes and living our lives as humans that I feel obliged somehow to return a little of what I've personally taken in our 750 square metres; we are in danger of 'civilising' our native animals and birds right out of existence. For us we can return an offering to nature through maintaining a bird-friendly yard and providing bird-friendly treats such as seeds and nectar mix. And of course simply allowing them to 'be', unharassed.
In doing this, as the saying goes, we are trying to become 'part of the silence'. We can step away from our tablets, phones and screens and live in real time again, even if for just a few minutes a day, a kind of 'Cockatoo Hour' instead of 'Cocktail Hour' if you like. By actually stopping to listen to what the birds have to say, I'm learning again to find my own song.
|A Kookaburra in my parent's yard. These aggressive birds will snatch food|
right off your fork if you eat outside.
|Feeding Lorikeets in my parent's yard, early 90s|
|Dad feeding Lorikeets in the yard, late 80s|
|Peter the Rosella perched on my shoulder, here with my brother|
at Christmastime circa 1974
|Eastern Rosella in my parent's yard date unknown|
|Cockatoos are quite destructive; this one has|
taken a liking to the new growth on this tree
|Young male Australian King Parrot|
|Female Australian King Parrot|
|Spy on the watch: a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo acting as lookout while others eat|