Australia gives whole new meaning to the phrase “yard bird”. Where we have chickadees, robins, and crows in modest numbers, the Australian yard will have an array of parrots, cockatoos, miners, and honeyeaters. The bird immediately below is a Noisy Miner – one of the Honeyeater tribe, and a very common bird whether in a suburban yard or in the bush country.
The white bird (below) with the pinkish and blue facial patch is a Long-billed Corella, one of the large cockatoos. These birds were very common and there were usually Sulphur-crested Cockatoos mixed in with them. They were common where we were, but have a limited range overall. In the places where they occur they are often very common but you have to be in western Victoria, the very eastern part of South Australia, or in southeastern Tasmania in order to be assured of seeing this species.
The rosy-colored parrot in the picture below the Corella is another very common bird called the Galah – the local pronunciation is “ga-LAH” rather than “gala” as an American would say. It took some getting used to the abundance of cockatoos and parrots. In many cases the tree-loving parrots were very hard to get a good look at but the big ones, and others that fed on the ground, were very much at ease in most cases.
The large Sulphur-crested Cockatoos (as shown in the 3rd image below) are often rather tame features of urban parklands. They were also very common in farmland outside the cities. As they probe in sod (and rip and tear and dig) they do favor maintained grassy areas. The call of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (and most parrots of any kind) is a loud raucous screech – quite unpleasant overall.
It was not uncommon to see hundreds of any of these cockatoos each day. There was nothing special about finding them daily as they were pretty much everywhere; suburban yards, remote desert bush, or seasonally flooded areas. The largest of them, the Sulphur-crested, could be seen a half-mile away scattered like so many piles of snow. There are three Corella species and two of the large crested cockatoos. As with many animals (of all sorts) some have very specific adaptations and are found within rather restricted plant communities.
There are few roads in most of Australia and most side roads are gravel. Some are black-topped wide enough for one car to travel comfortably – when a car approaches you each drive with one side of the car on black-top and the other on gravel. Driving on the left was an experience that we talked our way through at every turn -“OK here comes a roundabout, we will stay left and peel off onto the second roadway”. We did pretty well. It was very helpful that the roads are rural and the people considerate. (However, there was that awful last day when our GPS took us on a two-hour tour of all the roads in downtown Melbourne instead of letting us hop onto a toll road directly to the airport. That was a trying bit of driving even if it was the last day and we were somewhat experienced.)
The Brown Falcon is a good bit like the Peregrine Falcon that is thinly, but widely, spread in North America. It was not the most common bird of prey but we saw several. We saw many Wedge-tailed Eagles every day, Brown Falcons on several days, and ten to twenty Whistling Kites each day. There are no vultures or Buteos (like Red-tailed Hawks here in the USA) in Australia but there are Kites, Eagles, Sea-Eagles, Accipiters, and Harriers. Most of the pictures I took of eagles and such are of birds in flight and they don’t offer much to the blog.