Archive for October, 2006

I and the Bird #35

The latest edition of I and the Bird Carnival has been posted at Migrations. I strongly recommend looking at the birding blogs included in this carnival. I am sure you will find several new sites and plenty of interesting reading.

As usual, my contribution is included, along with several other Australian birders.


  • Migrations – latest host of I and the Bird Carnival

Something to Laugh About

Several weeks ago my wife and I were talking to a friend about the birds in our garden. We were asked if Laughing Kookaburras ever came to visit our garden. Yes, they do from time to time, but when we thought about it, we realised it has been quite a few months – perhaps over a year even – since the last visit.

So it was a delight when one came to pay a short visit a few days ago. The downside was that I happened to be in Adelaide for a conference at the time, so I missed it. So I didn’t get a photo.

The photo below was taken at Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney earlier this year. It was not in an aviary; it was a free flying bird.

Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra

Bird Word: Axillaries

  • Axillaries: feathers that cover the underside of the wing in the region of the ‘armpit’ of the bird, that is, where the wing joins the body. In some species it is distinctly coloured.

The fact that some species of birds have distinctive coloured axillaries – feathers under the wings (or their ‘armpits’) – is a diagnostic feature. In this area we have Musk and Purple Crowned Lorikeets. They are very hard to identify as they fly bullet-like from tree to tree looking for food.

I think I have the slight difference in their calls nailed, but the distinctive red ‘armpit’ patch tells me it is a Purple Crowned Lorikeet, and the absence of this colour indicates a Musk Lorikeet.

For more in this series of articles check out the Glossary of Bird Words here.

Musk Lorikeet

Musk Lorikeet

Anyone for a swim? Forget it baby Blackbird

I had been planning on cleaning our swimming pool for some time, but other jobs kept getting in the way. The weather has been warming up quite suddenly in recent weeks here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. After a very cold winter with many frosts the warmer air is quite a pleasant change.

And so it is that our thoughts turn to swimming. We have a small in-ground swimming pool in our garden. It is a lovely spot to relax in or around after a hot summer’s day. The exercise is also very good for us. Over the winter months it has become somewhat neglected, to the point where it would be more aptly called “Le Swamp.” It’s green – very green and murky. Not good for swimming. Even the local ducks are now shunning it, though one did pay a visit yesterday.

Now to clean the pool I have to vacuum all the rubbish off the bottom; things like leaves and sticks blown in from nearby trees during winter storms. I use a flexible blue rubber hose attached to the pump which vacuums (or rather sucks) the debris off the floor of the pool.

Good theory.

I have a problem.

I can’t use the hose; someone has used it to make it their home. A Blackbird couple have moved into the pool pump shed and made a nest on top of the hose where I hang it up between uses. Now the nest has babies. And so I cannot begin to prepare the pool for swimming. It doesn’t matter; the forecast for next week is for quite cool weather.

Related Articles:

  • Common Blackbirds – information about Balckbirds with many comments from my readers about their experiences with this species.
  • Do Blackbirds Swoop? – How to deal with aggressive bird behaviour. Again there are many comments from my readers. This is currently my most popular article.
Common Blackbird nest

Common Blackbird nest

Bird Word: Accidental

  • Accidental: when a species is observed in an area or region where it is a long way from its normal range or distribution, it is said to be ‘accidental’.

A few years ago there was an accidental occurrence of a male Rose Robin here in Murray Bridge. Apparently it is a totally beautiful bird but I didn’t get to see it. I was in bed with the flu that week. [Sigh] I still haven’t seen this species. [Bigger sigh].

The Rose Robin is found through eastern and southern Australia. Its normal habitat is wet rainforests and in dense wet gullies. None of these exist in Murray Bridge. However, it does occur from time to time in the Adelaide Hills, about 60-70kim to the west. It must have been on its way there and decided to have a few days holiday by the river.

As I said, I still haven’t seen this species, so I haven’t taken a photo of a Rose Robin. The next best is this photo of a Red Capped Robin. Just pretend the red is rose coloured.

For more in this series of articles check out the Glossary of Bird Words here.