Living with wildlife is not always a glorious, wonder struck affair. I had some seriously negative emotions about Sulphur Crested Cockatoos earlier this year - read I Hate Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, The Autumn Harvest, and Avian Invasians The last of our sunflowers are flowering this week, and I just picked the last of our delicious corn. Somehow, we managed to find a way of living with the cockies, and still had something to eat.
They did swoop in and devour the Giant Russian sunflowers, clearly a delicacy. Fortuitously the sunflowers provided a perfect lure to bring the birds right in front of my lounge-room window. It was a joy to watch them balancing precariously on swaying stems, gaily snipping off leaves and showing off their Leunig cartoon like crest. The cockatoo display went on for weeks, the littlest would say "oh, oh, naughty cockies mum", I gave up on shooing them away. These birds have personality, they were screeching at me as I attempted to take their photo, almost indignant at the interruption to their feast. I think they knew there was no bite in my bark, cocking their head to the side to eyeball me.
Another upside to their destruction was that we have been harvesting corn right up to May, thanks to their early pruning of my seedlings I have had several late plantings of vegetables to enjoy.
I almost like the birdy battle of wits, even if they win most of the time. Thankfully they left the corn alone, if only they knew of the golden treats hiding in those plain green husks. I don't think there's much corn growing around here so their inexperience was on my side. So, even if I curse them, and their destructive ways, I am glad to have them around.
The cockatoos are departing now that the summer crops are finished. Replacing them is the most delightful pair of Scarlet Robins. During Autumn and winter these beautiful birds migrate into more open areas and have visited our place in winters gone by. The female, whose breast is a blushing pink, was perched on the letters poking out of the letter box when I returned home last week. The sight of these little birds sends my heart soaring. The pairs mate for life and are territorial, so it probably the same birds returning to our backyard each year.
John Gould, The Birds Of Australia 1840-1848
I'm like the girl in Pamela Allen's book Black Dog, staring longingly out the window for a flash of her favourite bird. I'm constantly searching for the vibrant splash of red against grey skies. We even have the black dog who is craving some love.
I'm a little worried about what our neighbour's black cat is up to. I caught it hunting one of our ring tail possums recently and have found a couple of piles of feathers. There will be no love for black cats with red birds in their mouths. Scarlet Robins forage for insects on the ground making them vulnerable to cats. Such a shame cats are such keen hunters as he is very friendly and loves a scratch and play, the children love greeting him on his frequent visits.