We love hearing and seeing Peaceful Doves in our garden here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. For many years this only happened occasionally, every month or so and only for a brief visit. That has changed in the last month and we see and hear them daily.
Although they are widespread throughout much of the agricultural lands of our state they are not present in large numbers anywhere. When two decided to take up residence in our garden and its adjacent patch of mallee scrub we were delighted. They often called several times a day and sometimes even came close to where we often have a cuppa or a meal on our back veranda. Several weeks ago my wife noticed these two birds mating, so I assumed that they would be soon making a nest in our scrub.
So far I have been unable to locate a nest, and knowing how skimpy the nests of pigeons and doves can be I am not surprised. On one occasion some years ago I stood underneath the nest of a Bronzewing Pigeon and counted how many eggs were in it. Just a few thin sticks thrown together almost randomly seems to be adequate for this group of birds. How the eggs stay in the nest is beyond me – and how the young stay in the nest without destroying their home is amazing.
The Peaceful Dove pair in our garden are hanging around so I am assuming they have made a nest and are sitting on eggs. One of the birds stays quite close to the house and continually calls throughout the day. Now – I love hearing the soft call of this species – don’t get me wrong. But when it goes on calling hour after hour throughout the day it gets a bit much. It is then that this beautiful little dove becomes far from peaceful.
A few night ago we were suddenly aware of the familiar call of a Southern Boobook owl quite close to our house. I only took a few moments to locate it in the large tree next to our clothes line. I didn’t bother getting out the camera to get some photos because the last time I saw one in our garden I got the photo shown above. It is quite possibly the same bird.
It has been some time since we heard a Boobook in our garden; usually we have the television going at night and that tends to drown out the night sounds. On this occasion we had both been working on cleaning out the office, so the television was off. Perhaps we should do that more often!
Much to our delight we heard it calling again the following night. It would be lovely to be able to call it a resident bird present nearly every night, instead of just an occasional visitor every few years. It is quite welcome to move in and can have all the mice it can catch while it stays.
One of the more interesting birds on display in the Adelaide Zoo here in South Australia is this Bush Stone-curlew.
Standing just over half a metre in height it is an imposing bird. This individual wanders around an open enclosure with Pelicans, a variety of ducks and some Cape Barren Geese. I am assuming it has had its wings clipped to keep it from flying off.
Although this species is widespread throughout a large range across Australia, I have yet to see this bird in its natural environment. It is mainly active at night and most observers’ encounters with the species would be only hearing its haunting, far-reaching “weer-loo” call at night.
Earlier this week I was sitting on our back veranda doing some reading – and enjoying the lovely sunshine. After many weeks of gloomy, drizzling weather it was wonderful to soak up some warmth.
My reading was suddenly interrupted by the distinctive call of a Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo. I looked up and saw this bird perched near the top of a nearby mallee tree. (The branches are dead because they have been ring-barked and subsequently killed by two Galahs chewing the bark.)
I raced inside for the camera and managed a few reasonable photos before it flew off, probably looking for an unsuspecting host to care for its eggs and young. Like most cuckoos in Australia (and elsewhere), this species is parasitic, meaning that they lay their eggs in the nests of other species. Around our garden this probably means the nest of a thornbill.
The unsuspecting host pair hatch the cuckoo’s egg and then feed the young cuckoo. The young cuckoo will even tip the other young birds out of the nest – and thus get all of the food.
Since hearing this bird I’ve heard others in the district, so the spring/summer breeding season is definitely on the way.
The Tawny Frogmouth has a special place in our family folklore. Back in the mid 1980s we were camped in the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park in north west Victoria. We were right next to Lake Hattah, a lovely camping spot and place full of interesting birds. On this occasion we were disturbed around midnight by an “um-um-um-um” sound in the distance – or so we thought. Imaging the worst we feared someone had a portable generator, something forbidden in most Australian national parks. It really annoyed us.
Just as we were retiring the following night we heard the noise again. My attention was drawn to a dark shape in the tree just above our tent. Sitting there quite at home was our “generator”, a Tawny Frogmouth calling. This was the first time I’d heard this bird calling. And it kept on calling for a long time but we slept soundly, now knowing where the noise was coming from.
We occasionally have this species in our garden which is great. We don’t often hear it calling due to other noises – such as the television. My latest encounter with the species was at the Visitor Centre of the Innes National Park. We were paying our entry fees and I saw the lovely bird (shown above) sitting on display on the counter. A beautiful bird.
Sad to think that its um-um-umming days are over.