Sunday, 9 March 2014

Pesky birds...don't be fooled by their cuteness!

Since retiring and being at home a lot more than when I was working, I have noticed the comings and goings of a lot of wildlife around our suburban yard, especially the many varieties of birds that visit the nut and fruit trees we have growing. I am sure the whole neighbourhood knows when the cockatoos arrive as their loud screech lets everyone know they are visiting.

These birds are Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and you can hear their screech here. I know Kathy in the US likes to listen to the calls of the different birds I feature on my blog.

They seem to prefer to have their breakfast in our macadamia nut tree around 7am. I can see them out the windows on the back verandah when I am having my breakfast at the same time. First one arrives and has a look around and there is loud screeching...

 ...then another three or four arrive and start pulling the macadamia nuts off the tree.

Eventually they fly down and crack open the nuts on the ground with their strong beaks. Thankfully they don't touch my husband's 'dahlia experiments' in the polystyrene boxes. They would be even less popular around here if they started taking a liking to them.

I have done a bit of research about the cockatoos and apparently when they are on the ground there is another one in the tree on 'guard duty' to warn of any danger while they are in a vulnerable position. When disturbed they grab a nut and fly up higher to get out of harm's way. 

Then the nut can be cracked open...

...and enjoyed.

I once asked a macadamia nut farmer how to stop the birds from eating the macadamia nuts and he said to tell my neighbours to grow a pecan nut tree.

Well, we don't have to do that as we have a pecan nut tree growing out the front.

Yesterday I opened the kitchen curtains which had been closed to keep the afternoon sun out and...lo and behold...there was cocky sitting not far away munching on pecan nuts. 

So I grabbed my camera and quickly took some photos through the window before he flew away so they are not as clear as they could be...not that the windows aren't spotlessly clean I might add! As if!

They are very wasteful birds and really leave a mess behind. They only eat a portion of the pecan nuts and they pull a lot of macadamia nuts off the tree before they are ready. I have seen a lot of branches on the ground underneath the pecan nut tree and apparently this is a way they sharpen their beaks which are extremely strong. If anyone has tried to crack open macadamia nuts they will understand how strong their beaks must be.

As a lot of my readers are not from Australia and might be interested in our wildlife, I thought I would share with you a photo which apparently has gone viral around the world since last weekend....

...which shows a python swallowing a freshwater crocodile. Now I know that the snake and crocodile seem quite large in the photo but apparently the crocodile was only 45cm or a foot and a half long. That is hard to believe by just looking at the photo but that's what it says in the newspaper article. This spectacle happened at Lake Moondarra which is Mt.Isa's water supply and is situated 16km (10 miles) outside the mining town in north-west Queensland where my daughter lives. You can see more photos and a video here.
Thankfully we don't live in the Outback where Mt.Isa is situated (even though I'd like to see my granddaughters more often) and don't have any crocs around here although there are snakes in our area but we do look out for them during the hot days of summer. Most of our wildlife is not quite so dangerous and is just a tad annoying at times when I am looking forward to a crop of pecan nuts which never make it to our kitchen thanks to the pesky cockatoos.

 As I said, don't be fooled by their cuteness! 


  1. While we don't have sulphur crested cockatoos here we do have corellas and they are equally pesky!!! Dongara and Geraldton both have 'shot firing' systems to keep them on the move, though that is not very good. Trees in both places are decimated from their activities.
    Wow, the python/crocodile photo is spectacular. We don't have crocodiles either!!! Thank goodness:)

    1. Shirley, I believe the farmers have a similar deterrent to scare the birds off their crops but they are persistent pests. Apparently someone nearby has been feeding them and that is why they are now feeding on our nut trees. Thankfully we don't have crocs around here either.

  2. Yes, we are corellas too and they drive me nuts! Our fly in at 5.45am and congregate in the gum trees. What a din!

    1. Joolz, I think 5.45am is a bit rich! Ours arrive a little later thank goodness.

  3. Glad I don't have your problem there Nanna Chel - we have no nut trees, but the magpies drive me crazy here. They even swoop into the kitchen looking for food :)

    1. That's scary Tania! Plenty of maggie's and crows around here too.

  4. I look at your birds that I only see in zoos and pet stores and forget they may not be 'all that' to have in the back yard. I don't know if they have any natural predator birds, but I once taught classes in a building that kept the bird 'droppings' to a minimum by having a recorded hawk/falcon cry every so often and it worked a charm keeping the others away. It may not be practical for you. We have some actual peregrine falcons that had a few meals out of our birdies in the yard last year! We have seen Robins - it must be almost spring!!!

    1. That must be so great to see the Robins, Kathy. It has been a long and miserable winter for you all in the US. I hope spring and summer are kind to you.

  5. The birds I dislike the most are the bush turkeys, Chel. From late winter until late summer they dig up my Vegie patch...the sulphur cresteds break open the passionfruit and eat the pulp, but I didn't realise they could break open macadamia nuts. Those beaks are sure tough!


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