Swooping Season – Watch Out!

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This sign had fallen off the fence onto grass under a eucalypt tree but whether caused by human or bird intervention is anyone’s guess. GBW.

Magpies in Australia are well-known for swooping humans and pets during their breeding season between July and December, but peak swooping month is September in Brisbane.  This is normal defensive behaviour in springtime as the birds are trying to protect their eggs or newly hatched young in the nest.

Walk the long way home!  Swooping season can be a nuisance to some people, but often Magpies will accept the presence of people within their territories (they do get to know human families) however when attacks do occur, they usually take place within a hundred metre radius around the tree containing their nest.

I know from experience that a sudden rush of wings and a sharp, snapping beak at the side of your head is a very scary thing.

While most Magpie attacks are mild, they could cause serious injury to your eyes and head.
Seven tips to protect yourself against swooping birds:

(1)  Wear a hat or carry an umbrella

(2)  Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes

(3)  Do not interfere with the birds or their nest

(4)  Watch the birds while walking away quickly and calmly

(5)  A bird is less likely to swoop if it knows you’re watching

(6)  If you ride a bike, dismount and walk

(7)  Never aggravate a Magpie as this can make the bird defensive and lead to a more severe swooping attack next time.

Some people paint big eyes on their bike helmets or stick drinking straws on their hats to repel Magpies, but I’m not sure these ideas work.  Wearing head protection stops wayward claws from tangling in hair.

Magpies are vocal birds with a carolling call.  They adapt well to open and cleared environments and thrive in large areas of lawn (like parks, golf course, school grounds) which provide foraging sites, and where there are scattered trees available for nesting, and a water source.

Usually Magpies eat garden pests and insects but they are inventive when it comes to cat food.  In my photo sequence this one peered into the car scrounging for a snack.

The nest of a Magpie is bowl-shaped and made from dry sticks with a lining of grass, bark and other fibres.  The clutch size is usually around three to four blue-grey eggs, though this varies according to season, predators and health of the parents.  Magpie lifespan is about 25 years and I have had two hanging around my place for several years.  Both parents raise their young and guard their territory and they are a natural part of my outdoor life.

Pen Paper Clipart Boy Holding PencilPLEASE NOTE The Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen) is a native Australian bird and is PROTECTED under the State Wildlife Legislation (Nature Conservation Act 1992).  It is a serious offence to harm Magpies and penalties apply for attempting to harm them.  Information Brisbane City Council Biodiversity Living with Wildlife.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Wild Flamingos in Australia?

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Flamingos swamped by cheesecake topping 2020

Australia was once a continent graced by flamingos.  These tall pink birds are more associated with Africa and the Americas, but a long time ago they called Australia home.  For at least 20 million years, flamingos thrived on vast Australian inland lakes, until a drying of the outback ended their reign, perhaps a million years ago.

The Lake Eyre region in South Australia once had three species, more than Africa today.  Altogether Australia had at least six flamingo species, including the Greater flamingo – the main flamingo in Africa.  Australian museums have accumulated more of their fossils than of some regular Australian birds such as parrots.  At some sites their remains lay near those of outback crocodiles, dolphins and lungfish.

Flamingos are still regarded as Australian birds, for a very tenuous reason.  In 1988 a Greater flamingo dropped in on North Keeling Island, a remote Australian territory 2750km north-west of Perth, staying a couple of months.  Greater flamingos are found in Asia and southern Europe as well as Africa and this one had wandered over from India or Sri Lanka.

In Adelaide Zoo you could have seen the only flamingo left in Australia, a Chilean flamingo known warmly as ‘Chile’.  She was thought to have been imported in the late 1970s.  For quarantine reasons flamingos are now forbidden imports, which means that Australia is destined to become a flamingo-free zone unless another long-legged pink nomad wanders over from Asia.

FlamingoSource Australian Geographic by Tim Low February 6, 2017

More flamingo facts and fabulous photographs:
https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2017/02/australia-was-once-full-of-flamingos/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Rain for Christmas Day!

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After months of drought-like conditions it actually rained on Christmas Day!

THE BIRD BATH

by Stephen Whiteside

I’m just a humble bird bath.  I have no tap or drain.

I only ever fill up if we have a fall of rain.

I never have a bar of soap, or bottle of shampoo,

Or sachet of those clever salts that soak you through and through.

I’m never cleaned.  I’m never scrubbed.  There’s lichen on my lip.

I’m gritty and I’m earthy.  I provide a proper grip,

And those that use my services don’t mind that I am old,

Though my water might be cloudy, and its temp’rature quite cold.

They leap.  They splash.  They frolic, throwing spumes high in the air.

They play with great abandon, like they’ve not a single care.

They use me as a wash tub, yes, but choose to drink as well

Of my cool, refreshing water.  They are happy, I can tell.

I’m just a simple bird bath, standing silent in the yard;

Abandoned, half forgotten, but I do not find life hard.

I’m frequently replenished by refreshing falls of rain,

And all my good friends visit me…again…again…again.

© Stephen Whiteside  11.09.2012

Website https://www.stephenwhiteside.com.au/

Poems https://australianchildrenspoetry.com.au/australianpoets/u-z-2/stephen-whiteside/

Photographs Gretchen Bernet-Ward  26.12.2019

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‘Fallen Angel’ 100 Word Drabble

 

Wild birds are squawking in the gum tree and I see movement in the grass below.  A bobbing head, something is amiss.  I open the kitchen door and step outside. With a sudden, strong flap of its wings, a goshawk rises from the ground in a cloud of grey and white feathers. Not an angel fallen to earth but the death of a white-headed pigeon.  A flotilla trails the hawk into the distance as I walk up to a pile of fresh feathers, no body, only feathers. It is springtime and the hawk has young to feed.  GBW © 2019

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

 

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The Shadow Bird

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Shadow Bird

First Bird went peck, peck, peck.

Second Bird went peck, peck, peck.

First Bird is annoyed.

He looks in the window,

He hops along the path,

He sips from a water bowl.

And Second Bird is always there.

When it rains, Second Bird goes away.

But not for long.

One day First Bird flies straight at Second Bird.

Ouch!

First Bird is taken to the vet.

His beak hurts,

And he feels lonely.

First Bird looks out the window.

There is Second Bird looking back.

Second Bird waits until First Bird is released,

And they fly away together.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward