We tend to take native creatures for granted but many of them have a personality of their own. Take birds for example. They can be fascinating if we take the time to watch them going about their daily routine of feeding bathing or just hanging around.
The most obvious thing one notices about birds is the “pecking order” and this is most noticeable when you have two or more different species feeding in the same tree or feeding tray. Lorikeets always seem to dominate in a nectar producing tree and they will chase other birds off their branch just because they can. Years ago we used to feed a colony of Double Barred Finches in our yard and one day a lone Zebra turned up and just took over the tray, with the Double Bars instinctively deferring to him.
Cats have always been considered to be the number one enemy of birds but they don’t always have the upper hand. We used to have a cat called “Sidney”, who was somewhat smarter than the average pussy. We had a pile of soil in the yard and it had been there long enough for a pair of little Pardalotes to burrow into it to make their nest. Sidney had obviously noticed them going in and out and there he was one day, standing up as tall as he could with his face pressed up against the soil and with his arm reaching down the nest hole as far as he could, but not far enough to grab himself a bird for dinner. The birds were just that bit smarter.
On another occasion Sid was enjoying his siesta in one of his favourite spots, on a bentwood chair under the table on our rear deck. A bunch of Butcher Birds, presumably a bit bored and looking for something to liven up their morning, got together and decided to have some fun with that cat up on the hill. We heard a lot of birds squarking and looked out to see several Butcher Birds lining the railing with another two hanging upside down from the top of the open backed chair giving poor Sid the bird equivalent of a raspberry. He did his best to ignore them but he had a look of thunder on his face. Birds one, cat nil.
I once saw a little bird lying on the lawn on its side with one wing in the air and I was filled with compassion for the poor stricken creature, until I realised that the circulating sprinkler was on and the smart little fellow was attending to his daily ablutions and was showering and washing under his arms as the spray came around. He then changed sides and did the other arm.
There can also be a bond of friendship between birds and animals. We once had a Budgerigar which was unable to fly and our then cat “Prudence” used to let it climb all over her and even nibble her nose. On night we forgot to bring the bird in and left it in its cage hanging in a tree. The next morning there was Prudence curled up on the ground directly beneath the cage, keeping vigil.
So don’t just pass birds off as irrelevant creatures. They can offer us a lot of enjoyment and entertainment, if we bother to take the time.
Noel Williams is interested in everything to do with gardening, outdoor living and wildlife and is passionate about birds.
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