Tag Archives: lorikeets

It’s all a matter of perception

Everlasting daisies in King’s Park

A few days ago a friend shared a set of pictures from Gardening Australia on Facebook. They are stunning photographs of flowers taken by Craig Burrows. It’s a shame they didn’t tell us what the common name was for each photo because with the “ultraviolet-induced visible fluorescence” process, they are transported to the extraordinary. In fact, I was very much reminded of the world-building in the movie Avatar. Just for fun I took the above photo and changed the photo’s temperature right down to purple. This is what it looked like.

Not quite ultra-violet

Which got me thinking. We see the worlds around us very much from our own point of view, and we miss so much. Bees see the world in ultraviolet. I wonder if their view is like those pictures? Our sense of hearing is vastly inferior to that of dogs and other predators. I love Terry Pratchett’s description of sense of smell as experienced by the Watch’s werewolf, Angua. For her, smell tells a great deal about the maker of the smell. It comes in layers, and it has a history, so dogs can sense how long ago bitch X was here.

Then there’s hearing. Once again, dogs and cats can hear things we don’t. Elephants can communicate in wave lengths so low we can’t hear them, while dolphins use much wider frequencies that overlap our sense of hearing only to a limited extent. Here’s a brief article on that subject. Dolphins in fact use sound to ‘see’.

And all this is on our own small blue dot. We can’t begin to know what’s out there in the vastness of space. What will a;ien species be able to do? How will they use their senses? And you know, that was the disappointing part of Avatar for me. Pandora was inhabited by wondrous, diverse (if recognizable versions of Earth) creatures. But the dominant species was a new version of pick your location of indigenous tribe. I suppose that was necessary in a romance movie for humans.

For this week I thought I’d share some lorikeet pictures. They brighten our lives, amuse, and annoy. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jostling over the apple juice. Note that one hanging upside down. I think they think that’s how the apple juice gets there. Also the two in the middle about to have an animated discussion.

This bird inserted himself between the two arguing – because there was a tiny gap

Things get a bit raucous

And sometimes they look like they’re dancing on the air

The bird bath is always popular

About THE most useful thing any backyard can offer the local birds is a place to bathe. This bird bath is in a protected location, with a tree nearby for grooming and drying. It’s also well off the ground, so local cats won’t be an issue. I keep the water clean by emptying the bath and giving it a light scrub before re-filling to get rid of algae. That’s done pretty much daily. You’d be surprised at how much dirt and loose feathers a bunch of birds will leave behind.

And because I do that, I get to enjoy this.

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This is a bonded couple bathing together

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Much splashing about

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They duck right under the water

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When one is finished, the other will get into it

Nature in the raw #photo

Note the fighting on the table

Note the fighting on the table

There’s nothing quite like watching wild animals doing what they do. I’m privileged to live in a bird rich neighbourhood. If you come here often you’ll know about my local rainbow lorikeets. They come to the pool fence not far from the kitchen window to partake of apple juice, and sometimes fruit like apples and pears. Yes, they’re cute and colourful, but they’re also aggressive little buggers, so there’s always a lot of pushing and shoving and beaks and claws.

But then, even when there’s no food available, the birds feel comfortable to do what they do. They almost always arrive in pairs and though males and females look alike, you can pick the males from their behaviour. The males quite often put on dominance displays. They fluff themselves up, arch their necks and strut. More often than not, they’re doing that to impress their lady friend because they’re feeling amorous.

Like this.

How about it, sweetheart?

How about it, sweetheart?

You can see she’s receptive. She has her legs spread wide, ready to carry his weight. So he hops on and has his way, using his wings for balance. Most birds don’t have penises, so really, they’re just rubbing their bits together. It  doesn’t last for long, though it may happen several times. Eventually, she’ll get fed up with his advances and snap at him to tell him she has a headache. Or a backache.

Amorous lorikeets

Making whoopee

 

 

 

Wanna make something of it?

Wanna make something of it?

 

 

 

 

 

The other place you get the aggressive eye contact and arched back is when the boys have a standoff. Here’s one. You can tell it’s all different.

But whatever they do, they are endlessly entertaining. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to have them share their lives with me.

Qucik! Everybody scarper!

Quick! Everybody scarper!

Pictures from the magic pool fence

I’m fortunate enough to live on a property where there’s room for a swimming pool. One of the downsides of having a pool in Australia is it has to be fenced. At least one and a half metres high, unclimbable, with self-closing gates. It’s a legal requirement to reduce the incidence of toddlers drowning in swimming pools, and non-compliance leads to fines. Yeah, yeah. We’re not forced to fence dams, or the ocean, or even garden ponds. We don’t get visits from people with small children and our property is fenced, but that’s irrelevant.

Hey ho. Rant over.

The upside of having the pool fence is that it’s not far from the back of the house and the local birds like to use it to perch. So we built a little feeding platform on it, where we put out bowls of apple juice for the lorikeets, and sometimes some seed for the seed-eating birds. It works like magic, folks. Here’s a few pictures to prove it.

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This is what happens when the alarm call goes up

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Long-billed corella looking handsome

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A young blue-faced honeyeater (that green patch becomes blue as the bird ages)

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A sulphur-crested cockatoo laying claim to the bird seed. That’s a full grown lorikeet he’s bullying

Wet crested pigeon

A crested pigeon in the rain

Jockeying for position

Jockeying for position

Happiness is a new camera #photo

When you get past a certain number of years on the timeline of life you don’t wait for birthdays to give yourself presents. I’ve had a Canon 550D camera for several years now, and it has served me very well, but I’d started to yearn for something better. My favourite subjects are moving birds and whales and there had been a few times when I’d thought I’d captured a stunner, only to find it was slightly out of focus, or fuzzy around the edges.This is an example. It looks great small, but blow it up to full resolution and it’s not quite there.

sea eagle

So when I discovered that a lot of photographers who published their work in National Geographic used the Canon 5D Mark III I went into lust overdrive. After a few sleepless nights I thought what the hell? You can’t take your money to heaven (or hell, for that matter). So I used some of my writing earnings and became the proud owner of a 5D.

It’s a whole new learning curve, but here are a few shots I’ve taken with it so far. I think it’s worth it already.

Hold on tight

Hold on tight

Coming in

Coming in

butterfly on rosemary

butterfly on rosemary

 

 

 

The mystery of the nest box

Loss of old trees has meant a loss of nesting hollows for many Australian animals. My husband and I have tried to do our bit by putting up nest boxes in a few places. We’re still waiting for the microbats to find their little house, high up in the eaves. The other boxes were built for medium sized birds, like lorikeets and rosellas. One nest box with a larger opening has been occupied by the local possum, but we have two up-market apartments still vacant. One is next to where the possum lives, so I expect that’s ruined the neighbourhood. But the one on the other side of the pool, attached to a palm tree, is a mystery.

A pair of rosellas showed some interest, then the box was ignored. Until recently. One day, I thought something had moved in, but I checked with binoculars and it was just the light striking the inside of the box. But wait a minute – the entrance hole had been chewed. It wasn’t flaking paint and if you looked closely, you could almost see claw marks.picture of nest box

What was it?

Not parrots or day birds. They went up there, for sure, because the palm was in flower, and everyone loves palm nectar. The birds would sit on top of the box, but I never saw anything going in, or coming out, and there was no wear on the perch. Sure, the possum went up there to feed at night, but she wouldn’t fit in that hole. Besides, there was no sign of hair on the wood.

An owl? Microbats? I’ve looked for droppings, but there’s nothing. Besides, the box doesn’t bother the birds at all. They’ll sit on top to take nectar from the palm flowers.

picture of 2 parrots looking at nest boxThis morning, a pair of lorikeets showed some interest. Here they are, inspecting the premises. One bird spent a lot of time actually putting his head in there. One picture seems to show he was unimpressed and maybe a bit fearful – but he put his head in, again.

picture of Lorikeets inspecting nest boxpicture of bird reacting to next boxpicture of bird with head in nest boxIt’s absolutely intriguing. Sure, we could get a ladder and look in through the top, but that’s not very neighbourly, is it? And who knows? Maybe we’ll get to hear the clitter-clatter of tiny claws some time. Wouldn’t that be nice?

By the way, any suggestions regarding the tenants would be welcome.

With the rain comes the rainbow birds

Picture of Birds on a fenceWe’ve had a lot of unseasonal rain lately, causing a change in our bird visitors. Every garden has its locals and our’s is no different. We have a colony of noisy miner birds, a bunch of butcher birds that come over regularly for pieces of bacon rind, a few pee wees, crested pigeons and turtle doves, all on the scrounge for bits of bread or fruit. Sometimes (maybe once every ten days or so) we’re visited by rainbow lorikeets, who like a piece of left over bread. There’s one couple (they usually come in pairs) that seem to be regulars. We can tell by their behaviour, not appearance. They’re not afraid of us and they see off any intruders of their own kind as if our yard is their territory.

When it rains, the lorikeets come in numbers. I guess it’s harder to find nectar and seeds when the water is trickling down between your feathers. And I expect they get cold, too.

So… when it rains we have scenes like this.

 

They become quite aggressive. After all, free food is a scarce commodity.

 

Yesterday, I decided to test how trusting the birds really were. And here’s your answer. I offered my piece of bread to the pair I thought were our regulars, they accepted, then everybody came to join in. Wild birds all, just some of the thousands upon thousands around the town. It was a blast. And a privilege.

Watch where you’re putting your claws

Sometimes photo opportunities just… happen. I was working on a synopsis when I heard the familiar chirps of a couple of rainbow lorikeets. A lot of them live around us, we see them frequently but they hadn’t come in close to the house for a few days. So I picked up the camera and went outside.

These two must have popped in for a secret tryst. The thing that struck me was the size difference. Unlike many bird species, there’s no real way of telling by sight which is a girl and which a boy – although behaviour offers a clue. But this pair seemed to be an exceptionally large male and a very petite female.

I also thing the male was quite young and inexperienced. He has that youthful glitter in his eye. She let him mount but I think he must have stuck a claw in a sensitive spot.

From then on, she wasn’t talking to him, despite his attempts to impress.