Archive for September, 2006

Rainbow Bee-eaters

Every spring we look forward to the return of one of our favourite Australian birds, the Rainbow Bee-eaters. They usually arrive sometime in October – this year they are a little earlier than normal by a few weeks.

No photos yet

Today we heard several calling when we were working out in my wife’s Australian native plant nursery. We didn’t see them but it was great to hear their calls. I am sure we will get great views over the coming months as they hawk for bees and other insects in our garden. There is a wild bee-hive in a tree hollow and it’s like a smorgasbord laid on for them. I haven’t yet taken a photo of these spectacularly coloured birds, so stay tuned. UPDATE: I now have a good photo – see below.

Nesting habits

They have often nested in the vicinity of our property. The last time was in the sand bank on the side of the road running down one side of our place. They make a 30-40cm nesting hollow in the sand. As a child I was fascinated that these birds made a little tunnel for the nest.

Further reading:

Rainbow Bee eater

Rainbow Bee eater

Eagles v Swans

The West Coast Football Club from Perth has just a few moments ago beaten the Sydney Football Club in the Grand Final of the Australian Football League for 2006 by one point. The final quarter was one of the most exciting periods I play I have ever seen.
What has this to do with birding?

The West Coast team are known as the Eagles.

The Sydney team is known as the Swans.

My favourite team, the local Adelaide Crows, were beaten last week by the Eagles, also by a small margin.

More about Sulphur Crested Cockatoos

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Yesterday I had a comment on an earlier post that made some interesting, informative and entertaining things to say about the behaviour of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos. In part, Scot was questioning my statement that this species was a bit flighty and hard to photograph. With his permission I quote his comments in full.

I’m surprised that you say that Sulphur Cresteds are hard to approach, Trevor. There’s a wild flock in the centre of Sydney that live in the botanic garden and it’s quite easy to wander around watching them dismantling various trees there. You can get quite close if you are careful.

They also use this as a base to invade much of the urban inner city area – some people feed them off their high rise balconies. I lived in Sydney’s inner east until very recently and they have, for the last 15 years or more, been a fixture of life in Woolloomooloo. Screeching their heads off and engaging aerobatic flying and tourist harassment and everything all year long.

In the last place I lived, in Potts Point, they used to regularly settle upon the trees in my street and proceed to demolish them for their fruit (which I note the Currawongs also ate). They will also attack human artefacts, such as the one we tried chasing off our neighbour’s window sill after it took a liking to shredding the fly screen. I guess living in centre of the big city they are used to humans completely. This one just looked me up and down, calculated that I couldn’t actually physically reach it, and then calmly returned to shredding activities.

They also once attacked a big foam spider effigy the museum had stuck on the front to advertise a spider exhibition they had on. I think they do this sort of stuff for pure entertainment value. They are hooligans and vandals and I love ’em!


Thanks to Scot for permission to post his comments.

Related articles:

What Bird Field Guide should I buy?

Frequently Asked Questions about Birding #9

What field guide should I buy?

Again, this is really up to personal preferences. Most countries of the world have at least one really good field guide for the birds of that country. In Australia we have a range of about 5 or 6 really lovely field guides to choose from. Often it comes down to what your budget can afford.

Most Australian field guides are in the range from $20-40. A word of warning: in recent times there have been a few ‘field guides’ that consist of only photographs. These are often beautiful productions and worthy of any birder’s library. They are, however, of limited use when identifying birds in the field.

A photograph shows a single bird, sometimes in light conditions that are not ideal. A good field guide consists of paintings of a typical member of the species showing all the subtle colour and plumage features that make for a positive ID. Good field guides also give a written description of the bird, and include a distribution map and plenty of additional information.

Willie Wagtail

Willie Wagtail

I and the Bird #33

The latest edition of I and the Bird (#33) has been posted over at a site called Don’t Mess with Taxes. At first glance it seems a strange site to be hosting a carnival about birds, but Kay Bell, the host of this week’s carnival, is an avid birder.

You will find plenty a great sites to visit with lots of interesting reading. Of course, my contribution is there, and is one of only two from Australia.