Dedicated to understanding  the remarkable emotional, social and mental abilities of birds, and the unsuspected richness of their societies.

Thornbills - Tiny Birds With Big Spirits

a pair of thornbills sitting on a fence

Thornbills (or yellow bottoms as they are fondly called) are barely 5 cms (2 inches) long. The picture on the left was taken with a 300mm zoom. Then the image was digitally enlarged.  You get the idea of how small these birds really are against objects in their natural environment.

They first attracted our attention when we were trying to photograph some peewees in a paddock. What appeared to be leaves rolling

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Not Just A Mad Galah

a galah bird sitting on edge of nest

Galahs are also called rose-breasted cockatoos and can be found almost all over Australia. With pretty pink chests and grey  coats they strike a stylish figure as they strut about the gum trees. They fly around in pairs and collect in flocks and are extremely social birds.

'Mad as a galah' is a common Aussie saying which probably originated from the fact that they can make loud screechy noises if upset and once they get into this whining state it can take quite a while to calm them down. 

There was a time when I too thought they were somewhat crazy.  Every night when we took our dogs Scotty and Benny for a walk, one particular galah who should have been fast asleep in his tree high above us and in no danger whatsoever from anything around, would start screeching and wake up the whole neighbourhood in the process.

But Galahs are far from mad.  They are very friendly birds. They love showing you their nests and introducing you to their friends and family. 

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Maggie magpie and Minnie noisy-miner Keep Me Safe From A Snake

Our birds have rescued us from snakes on many occasions.  Magpies, butcherbirds (both the pied and grey species), noisy-miners and others have all played a part at one time or another in keeping us safe.  Most of the time we do not have a camera in hand to capture a photographic record of the event.  But on a few occasions we have been lucky enough to be able to do so.  

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Romancing Koels

male koel

Koels herald the start of the stormy season and are called 'storm birds' by the locals.

While as big as a crow or a currawong, by nature they are shy birds and tend to stay in hiding. Their red eyes match the mulberries in the tree and when they sit in the shade of the broad leaves, one would never guess that there was a big bird sitting only a few feet away.

All the other birds are generally wary of cuckoos as they sense that someone devious is lurking in their midst.  The koels know that they are not popular, but they do win favours by chasing the goannas and feral cats thus making friends and gaining the trust with some of the other birds.

Having done so this male koel (left) was allowed to come out of hiding without any protest from the smaller birds that visit our yard. His mind and heart was elsewhere though as we discovered.

2 male koels hiding in the mulberry treeIn the trees was hiding another male koel whose presence was causing him great consternation.

female koel

It turned out that the tree was hiding another secret.  Closer inspection revealed a young female koel who was the centre of attention of the two vying young males. The lady honoured us by coming out after some gentle coaxing and sweet talking.

Her two suitors spent the next few days charming and courting her with their songs.  Once she declared her choice they flew into the deep bush leaving one lonely bird who called for weeks. We hope he found his sweetheart too.

Click here for more pics and slideshow

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Babblers and Magpies - A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed

babblers frolickingBabblers although larger than noisy-miners are still small, gentle birds that can be easily preyed upon by hawks and other predators.  They stay in their family groups, constantly moving and flitting about so as to confuse any hungry eyes watching them with  the wrong intentions. They are generally very shy and quite nervous birds and don't project the immense self-confidence that we've seen in quails for instance.

They like hovering in muddy patches, or near gravel, stone, logs and barks looking for insects.

We noticed their friendship with the magpies soon after we became friends with Maggie and his sisters Cindy and Tammie. 

 

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