A few weeks ago I was sitting at the table in my sunroom reading the daily paper. I was suddenly distracted by some birds at my bird baths just outside the window. This is a favourite place of mine to sit because I have an uninterrupted view of several bird baths strategically placed in my garden. During the warmer weather, there is often a steady stream of birds coming to drink and bathe in the water. Sometimes, the bird baths need daily replenishment. Many of the photos featured on this site have been taken of birds at the birdbath.
Once I saw that the bird was a Crested Pigeon sitting quietly on a branch near the top bird bath, I went to get my camera. It stayed there on the birdbath for a few moments, and then it moved to a nearby branch. It was then that its wing feathers caught the rays of the sun and showed up the brilliant iridescent colours (see the photos above and below). On most occasions, this species appears to be a dull grey with only a few white and black markings. In certain angles of the sunlight, the colours show up beautifully. When I zoomed in to take close-up photos, the beauty shows up even more – as seen in today’s selection of photos.
I have often written about the Crested Pigeon on this site, and I have shared many photos of them over the years. To read these articles and see the photos use the search button at the top of the page or click here.
The individual in today’s photos stayed around for about five minutes, enabling me to take plenty of shots in various poses. Bird photography can sometimes be a little frustrating because the subjects have a tendency to up and fly off – just when the camera has focussed on the bird. When they do pose nicely it is a wonderful bonus.
Over recent weeks my wife and I have been intrigued by one of our resident Crested Pigeons – shown in the photos on today’s post. We suspect that she is a female because another pigeon was displaying to her recently. We have given her the name “Topsy” because she has some extra-long feathers making up her crest. I am not sure what has caused this slight aberration, but it certainly makes her stand out from the other pigeons in our garden.
Like all of the Crested Pigeons and Spotted Turtledoves resident in our garden and on our five-acre block, “Topsy” comes frequently to our bird baths for a drink. Today, while I was having a cuppa after lunch she came once again. She spent a few minutes on a nearby branch preening before flying down for a drink. She then flew down to the ground and sat down in the sunshine. She immediately lifted up one wing and held it with the underparts exposed to the warm sun. “Topsy” then stood up, changed position and raised the other wing in the same manner.
While I haven’t seen this sunbathing behaviour in many species I have observed it in Spotted Turtledoves, Red wattlebirds, Noisy Miners and Australian Magpies. It is surprising that there is very little mention of this behaviour in the literature, but this article on the Australian Birdlife site gives the topic a good coverage. The article suggests that this sunbathing behaviour could be aimed at ridding the birds of unwanted lice.
I went for a walk of The Estate this afternoon.
When I say “The Estate”, please understand that we only own a 5 acre (2 hectare) block.
As I passed along the neighbour’s fence, I glanced over into the area in front of their house. On the grass I saw six birds feeding on the grass: 2 Crested pigeons, 2 Spotted Turtledoves and 2 Peaceful doves, all within about 2 or 3 metres of each other.
This is the first time I’ve seen all 3 species feeding in such close proximity to each other.
Note: I didn’t have my camera with me, so the photos shown today were taken on another occasion.
On our return from a recent holiday in Sydney we were having lunch on the back veranda. I was watching a Crested Pigeon fussing about in a tree about twenty metres away. Next thing it settled down as if on a nest. I left my food – actually I think I was at the cuppa stage of the meal – and moved slowly and carefully towards the nest. I’d remembered to go inside to get my camera first.
Sure enough – the pigeon was sitting on a nest. Crested Pigeons are very common around Murray Bridge. At times I have counted up to 50 sitting perched on power lines, often in a row. It’s quite a spectacular sight, though it is not common to see so many at one location. Loose groups of 5 to 15 are quite common, however.
Crested Pigeons are what I call a resident breeding species, meaning, they are resident all the year and that they breed in our garden. The nest shown in today’s photos is quite a substantial nest for a pigeon. Most pigeons and doves are not fastidious or elaborate when it comes to nest building. They seem to think that a dozen or so flimsy sticks placed at random in the fork of any tree or bush will do as a home for their chicks. How the eggs don’t fall through some nests I’ve seen is amazing. Still, they seem to manage; there are a lot of them around!
My writing of this post was interrupted by the load of washing finishing, and I am the one in our household who usually does the washing. The pigeon’s nest is near the clothes line and the bird is sitting tight, even when we walk within a few metres of the nest. She must have eggs, I think. I will keep a watch on proceedings.
UPDATE: January 22nd: over the last week we have had a heatwave with five days over 42C with several over 45C (113F). This was followed by several days of wild wind which broke several branches off our trees. The nest is still there but appears to have been abandoned.