Last weekend we visited my sister-in-law in Peterborough in the mid-north of South Australia. She works as the cook in the local hospital. Whenever we meet she delights in telling me about the latest antics of the Apostlebirds that reside in the town.
It seems that the local small flock of about 15 to 20 Apostlebirds has discovered that the local hospital is the place to get a free feed. For some years now they regularly descend upon the hospital grounds mid afternoon, around afternoon tea time, and wait for some handouts from the elderly residents of the aged care facility attached to the hospital. At least one (and I suspect more than one) of the elderly patients puts out biscuit, cake and bread crumbs, not to mention the occasional piece of fruit for this gang of freeloaders. At one stage they actually had a problem with the birds following the residents into their rooms which open directly on to the garden and lawn area.
Apostlebirds can be very tame around humans. On many occasions when camping at or visiting Hattah Lakes in north west Victoria we have been almost harassed by this species insisting on having a share of our food. They can be quite persistent and will hop on to the picnic table to have their share of the food.
The population at Peterborough is one of only a handful in South Australia. In northern Victoria and especially in New South Wales they seem to be everywhere in good numbers, but not so here in South Australia. I know of only one other population, and that is on my brother’s farm at Taplan, south east of Loxton and near the Victorian border.