I recently received an email from Warwick who is a regular reader of this website. Warwick is also pretty good with his camera, you may remember that he provided some excellent pictures for my post about Housing Styles in Australia and the UK Compared.
Well, Warwick has been at his camera again, this time capturing some of the wildlife of inner Sydney; the cockatoos and lorikeets that visit him on his balcony.
Warwick didn’t just provide the photographs this time though, he also added the narration. So, look at me, I’ve got the night off. As Warwick said in his email, there is more to Australia’s wildlife than the nasties like spiders, snakes and crocodiles. Australia also has beautiful and friendly wildlife.
Let’s meet some. Please click on any image to enlarge it, now, let’s hand over to Warwick…
Balcony visits in Sydney
I live in a block of flats just 90 seconds by train
from the centre of Sydney.
This fellow comes to my balcony, sits on the railing,
and softly calls to me to give him some food.
The only drawback is that I have to clean up
after him; he frequently poops onto the balcony floor.
But people who keep dogs have a similar problem.
I don’t encourage flocks of cockatoos
and I don’t give them sunflower seeds.
Sunflowers seeds bring out the worst in cockatoos
and they fight each other ferociously.
This pair of rainbow lorikeets are very good friends.
I think of them as a married couple.
It might be strange to refer to parrots as “married,”
but these birds pair up when they’re young, stay together for life,
move about together, and each year raise one or more young.
Since the meaning of the word “marriage” is changing on a daily basis
I think it can be applied very appropriately to the arrangements
that these birds make.
The one on the left is the wife.
I can’t tell them apart by looking but they behave differently.
As you can see, they’re standing on my knee while they eat
an apple segment that I hold up for them.
For some reason the husband stands closer to my body and his wife
stands to his right, almost always.
They eat differently.
The wife steadies herself by hooking her upper beak
into the flesh of the apple and then she scrapes her lower beak
along the surface of the apple’s flesh, scraping a kind of pulp
into her mouth. She then crushes this further,
using her lower beak and her large, powerful, rounded tongue.
And she tends to be ladylike in her movements.
The husband grips a piece of the apple flesh firmly, using both upper
and lower beak, and then shakes it free.
Mostly he’ll grab a piece that’s too large for him to bite off;
he’ll twist his head vigorously from side to side and dislodge
it using the force of his whole body.
He has to grip firmly with his feet and claws while he does this
but it’s never uncomfortable.
Once he has this large lump of apple flesh
in his beak he does a very clever chewing act.
He uses his upper and lower beak, and his tongue,
all together. The piece of apple is turned round and round
and gets smaller and smaller.
I imagine he is extracting the juice and pulping the flesh simultaneously.
I don’t have a photograph here to show you
but the male will push his wife around.
Sometimes, when they are both reaching
for the apple at the same time,
the husband will make a gesture as if to strike
his wife with his beak. I have never seen him actually make contact,
it seems to be bluff, but it works;
his wife literally “pulls her head in.”
But I must say that they mostly have a very co-operative and warm relationship.
Very often, after they’ve eaten quite a bit, they will stand on the railing and kiss.
It looks very much like a French kiss.
Their tongues seem to make contact while their bodies move excitedly up and down.
I know that adult lorikeets feed their young by regurgitating food into their mouths,
but that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening here.
Firstly, if one was an immature bird then there would be three of them together, the young bird and both parents.
And secondly, the female bird gives every indication of being completely mature.
I think they just like to enjoy their sensual pleasures.
Yes, thanks indeed Warwick; beautiful pictures and a great story. Made me want a house with a balcony.