Rock Dove

Rock Dove at Adelaide Zoo

I don’t normally pay much attention to photographing introduced species, but this Rock Dove strutting around in the grounds of Adelaide Zoo caught my eye. It was almost right under my feet, the camera was ready to shoot and the bird was posing appropriately, so I took the photo.

Rock Doves, also called Feral Pigeons, are common throughout Australian cities and towns. They are especially common here in South Australia around cereal grain handling facilities, even in remote rural areas. The free grain available in such places provides a sustainable source of food. When I travelled overseas I discovered that they are very common in most places.

This individual, one of many, was feeding on food dropped by people visiting the zoo. The outdoor restaurant area was only a few metres behind me when I took the shot.

Green Peafowl, Adelaide Zoo

Green Peafowl at Adelaide Zoo

One of the more spectacular displays by any bird species would have to be that of the male (peacock) of the Indian Peafowl. A closely related species is the Green Peafowl, shown in the photos on this post. I took these photos in a walk through aviary at the Adelaide Zoo late last year. The male decided I wanted some beautiful photos of his amazing plumage and displayed it for my benefit.

The Indian Peafowl is more commonly known as a peacock, but that name should be reserved for only the male. It is native to the Indian sub-continent where I was able to see it in its natural habitat in the forest area of Royal Chitwan National Park in southern Nepal. You can read about my experiences on Trevor’s Travels. The Green Peafowl, however, is native to south east Asia and could well be extinct on the Indian sub-continent. Unlike the Indian Peafowl, the male and female Green Peafowl are very similar in the colours of their plumage.

The Indian Peafowl has been introduced into many countries and is commonly kept in zoos, private collections, parks and gardens. In some places there are semi-feral populations, including King and Flinders Islands in Tasmania, and Kangaroo Island here in South Australia.

Green Peafowl at Adelaide Zoo

Green Peafowl at Adelaide Zoo

Rock Doves, Laratinga Wetlands

Rock Dove, Laratinga Wetlands, South Australia

Feral Pigeons – also called Rock Doves – are an introduced species of bird in Australia. In fact, they have been introduced to most of the world. I haven’t been to many overseas cities but I am aware that this dove is very common in most urban areas of the world. They are certainly very common in cities and town throughout much of Australia, and their range is constantly growing.

Along some coastal areas here in South Australia they breed in large numbers – often in the 1000s – along the coastal cliffs. Town and city buildings also play host to hundreds of birds and can cause severe problems with their droppings.

This small group of about a half dozen appear to have taken up residence in this large eucalyptus tree in the Laratinga Wetlands in Mt Barker, South Australia. The only place they could be nesting is in the many hollows in the large trees. In this way they are are pest species, taking up hollows that would otherwise be used by parrots, owls and animals like possums.

Rock Dove, Laratinga Wetlands, South Australia

Helmeted Guineafowl

Our neighbour's Helmeted Guineafowl on our property

Our neighbour’s Helmeted Guineafowl on our property

Over the last 25 years I have observed well over a hundred different species of birds in our garden. I can’t give an exact number because my database is not up to date. I think it’s about 110. Some of the birds I have listed include introduced species (eg House Sparrow).

On at least two occasions in recent weeks we have had a visit from our neighbour’s Helmeted Guineafowl. We often hear them calling when we are out in the garden, but this is the first time we have actually seen them venture into our paddock.

I can’t include this as a species for my garden block list. Being domesticated birds they are not free living, so they can’t be included. In the photo below I managed to fluke taking a Galah in flight.

Helmeted Guineafowl are native to Africa. They eat insects and seeds and nest on the ground.  They are large birds which measure from 40-71 cm in length, and weigh 700-1600 g.

Our neighbour's Guinea Fowl in our paddock

Our neighbour’s Helmeted Guineafowl in our paddock

A Starling in a hurry

Common Starling

Common Starling

Common Starlings are not my favourite birds.

In fact, here in Australia they are considered a pest, especially by fruit growers and people who have a few fruit trees in their back yard. A small flock can completely ruin a crop of apricots in a few hours, for example.

There is a wider environmental issue to also consider. Common Starlings are often found in flocks of hundreds and even number in the tens of thousands in fruit growing areas. Large flocks like this feed on the crops when they are ripe; for the rest of the year they are seriously depleting food sources of many of our native species. Even worse is the fact that they use tree hollows for their nests, thus denying native birds precious nesting sites. They are also very messy in their nesting habits, fouling the hollows to the point where only Starlings will reuse the hollow.

Last night I was at an outdoor function being conducted by our church. We hold this event on Sunday evenings every year in January  in the town sound shell. Despite the very loudly amplified music the birding was spectacular. Not many species flew over, mind you, but one incident involving a Common Starling really caught my attention.

Two Australian Hobbies (Little Falcons) live around the CBD and I’ve seen them soaring around the area on a number of occasions. One of them zoomed past the sound shell at great speed heading for some trees in the park opposite. It did a few loops around a tall pine tree disturbing a Common Starling in the process which sped of in the opposite direction, hotly pursued by the falcon. Both disappeared behind a building. I hope that the falcon caught his supper.