Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What's new, Cockatoo?

If you were to get a coherent answer (in a language humans can understand), the bird would give you it in one word. Eggs. It's spring. They're nesting. What's new in the cockatoo world? A lot of hard work, while they raise the little buggers who are hatching ... well, about now. These kilo-sized birds nest in hollows in big, big gum trees (blue gums are the best), and I can hear the question right now: so, what's a baby cockatoo look like?

You had to ask, right? Sorry about the slight fuzziness of the picture. The focus is fine, but this is at the absolute maximum zoom you can get off a digital camera, and you know what that does to your resolution. (Ah, for the days of optical photography ... except who can afford it these days?!)

So, yes, this is a cockatoo nest, with, uh, fluffballs with faces looking out of it. If you think they're cute, talk to their parents: they'll tell you the true story. (Actually, they are kinda cute, aren't they? This nest is in a tree literally on town square in Strathalbyn ... overcast day, threatening rain that never arrived. The next day was hot, at least in the riverland.)

The whole cockatoo flock (flockatoo?) must have been a couple of thousand birds (and since they weigh about a kilo apiece, that's a couple of TONS of cockatoo. Which is a bizarre thought). They were hanging out all over town; I never got the chance to ask the locals what they thought about being colonized by a couple of tons of cockies, but I'll give you good odds, some of them were less than delighted. Way up the country, these birds are regarded as a pest. They can take a house to pieces, and as for an orchard --? What orchard? All you have left is a couple of stumps. But ...

Yeah, they're cute, and they certainly brighten up the backyard. And speaking of birds in the backyard, how'd you like one of these:

This guy is a wedgetail eagle -- the local variety of eagle. We don't get the golden eagles they know in the UK, nor the bald eagles of North America. We get these,.and they're huge, as well as beautiful. Intimidating, too. This one is actually healing up from an accident of some kind, at a wildlife rescue facility in the hills. You wouldn't see them perched this way, normally; you see them gliding, hunting, and grab the field glasses.

As you'll have noticed by now, nothing is happening in the Mel-o-sphere. LORDS OF HARBENDANE is going fine; the cover has been designed, but not yet painted -- hoping to get that done next week, maybe the week after. I'm blogging in a vacuum today, but the cockies are certainly nesting, the yard is full of parrots, and while I was hunting for the fluffball picture, above, I stumbled over the eagle.

Here's another one, before I admit blogger's defeat for today (nothing worth talking about), and go back to work:

He's a sea eagle, at the same wildlife rescue facility. My understanding is that they aid the birds to recover, make sure they're fit and healthy and can fend for themselves, and then they're released back into the wild ... with the hope that they won't fly into any more powerlines or windmills in this lifetime. (For smart birds, they do it fairly regularly.)

To answer the question before it's asked: yes, I do like bird spotting, and wildlife watching. Another reason I enjoyed the hell out of Alaska, and why South Aus is a good place to be.

Next time the dreaded blog-vacuum strikes, I'll do Alaska pictures ... and perhaps talk about moose.


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