Monday, June 7, 2010

A rare bird

Every so often we have a couple of Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos around the place, probably due to the pine forest at the head of the valley. They love to dine on pine nuts but will cheerfully destroy any tree by biting it into small pieces if pine nuts are not in season. We don't really mind, although we probably should, because they are not a common, overwhelming nuisance like the galahs or sulphur crested cockatoos.

They have an eery cry, completely different to the raucous shrieks of the other cockatoos. It's so distinctive that we've been known to drop tasks and scan the sky on hearing it, hoping to catch a glimpse of this rare bird.

They come and go, as wildlife will. The first year we had a pair here. The next year it was several, perhaps seven or eight. Last year, on returning from their summer holidays, they must have told their friends about the abundance of pines here and they went exponential.

The flock circling the house and hanging upside down in the eucalypts must have easily been 50 or 60 strong. They are big, as big as a large cat, and spent several hours chasing each other from tree to tree like children let out for recess, wheeling and diving, playing cockatoo tag and hanging upside down in the branches. Climbing, snacking and chattering whilst bits of shredded gum blossom and leaves rained down.

I really like them in their playful mode but I hope they don't get out of hand and start tearing up the neighbourhood, forming gangs and breaking windows. They easily could, they are big enough.