At the last update on the new bird feeder, a pair of Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos had discovered it and I was thrilled that the bird feeder was encouraging the local wildlife.
The following day there were four cockatoos using the feeder. The day after, a few more visited us, landing on our roof and in the eucalypt and claret ash in my neighbours’ gardens, waiting for their turn.
There are now twenty three. I have a flock.
For those of you unaccustomed to cockies, this may seem lovely. They are, after all, majestic birds. They are also among the most destructive birds in the country – possibly even the world – and their communications are not via delicate trills and whistles. The call of a cockatoo is an ear-piercing, blood-curdling, gut-wrenching scream. It is particularly welcome at 6:30am outside one’s open bedroom window, when a young male has decided that he is the only one who is allowed in the bird-feeder at that time.
For the most part, the noise isn’t too bad. They tend to cry predominantly when circling high in the sky and generally get along quite well at the bird-feeder. The real problem is when many of them arrive at the same time and grow bored waiting for a space at the table to become free. This has resulted in a carpet of small, nipped-off branches below the neighbours’ trees, see-sawing of my young crab apples following a landing from high speed and the exciting new behaviour of pulling the leaf-guard out of my guttering. I found it yesterday, dangling from the roof and blowing in the breeze outside my study window.
Cats from all over the neighbourhood are converging on our garden and despite the fact that none dare approach a cocky for fear of mass retaliation, Tai is being kept quite busy seeing them off.
Combine all of this with the sheer quantity of bird seed they are consuming (it requires refilling daily) and I am beginning to question my wisdom in building this birdfeeder. I’m quite sure my neighbours are.
Yet I still don’t regret it. There is something magical about being visited by these magnificent wild creatures. They’re highly intelligent and social birds and I enjoy watching their antics. On a number of occasions I have seen them perched on the gutters, leaning over to peer back at me through the windows, so perhaps they similarly enjoy ours.
Who are we to complain about the noise, with our cities and freeways? We have celebrations that set the sky on fire and send animals wild and domestic alike fleeing in terror. Likewise if someone paved over our homes and food sources, risking ours and our children’s survival, we might be inclined to vandalism as well.
So I’ll fix up my gutter-guard, restock the bird seed and hope that my neighbours don’t mind. It can’t hurt to cut back just a little on the volume though.