Saturday, January 12, 2008

Currawong Adoption 1

About a month ago I started feeding a Currawong. Before that story though, I have to go back a bit.

There are big trees in the carpark between our unit blocks, and my balcony overlooks this. I like to sit out there when I smoke. Doing this, I got to noticing the different birds in my neighbourhood.

There are pigeons, for one. I was surprised when I first saw a couple of them turning over leaves and twigs in the soil beneath the trees, searching for bugs, or whatever it was. Before that, I had only known them for their scavenging in the city, in gutters, or near places where people ate. But this was different, and it changed my view of these birds. You hear them being called 'rats with wings' or 'gutter birds', and I had thought this way too, looking down at them, even with disgust, but seeing them poking around in the leaves and twigs like this made me see them differently.

Another bird that is everywhere here is the Indian Mynah. These are small brown and black birds with yellow beaks. They are an introduced species and considered a pest. For me, it's impossible to see them that way, the main reason being that years ago I saw one of these birds trying to rouse its crushed mate in the middle of a road. Its mate had been run over by a car, but the other bird was trying to make it get up. It would have to fly away when a car zoomed up, but then it would immediately return. Over and over this happened, and I thought, This bird is gonna get hit too. And I thought that people do things like this, people in stories, fairy tales, myths.

Similar in some ways to the Indian Mynah (and often confused with it), but an Australian native, is the Noisy Miner. These too have a yellow beak, but they are grey, white and black. These birds are well-named, since they are extremely noisy indeed. They are also bold and fearless, dive-bombing much larger birds when they get too close to their young.

Another bird that loves the trees in our carpark is the Rainbow Lorikeet. These birds are also noisy, and although they often produce low-volume, very amusing sounds, they are just as likely to screech and squawk as though they are throwing a tantrum.

Now to the Pied Currawong. These birds sometimes get confused with Magpies, since both are mainly black with some white feathers, but the easiest way to tell the difference is that Magpies have red eyes, Currawongs have yellow eyes.

OK, so here we are. How I started feeding these birds. One day, about a month ago, a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, I was on the balcony. A Currawong searching for food on the ground under the trees in the car park. I thought of the mincemeat in my fridge and went and got some and threw a chunk down. The Currawong saw it and went for it. It flew away into the top of some distant tree. Not long after that, I saw the bird in our tree again, so put a chunk of mince on the balcony railing this time. It didn't do anything, but seemed curious, so I tapped on the railing, making a dinging metallic sound, what I hoped would sound like a dinner bell, then moved back and stood in the doorway.
[to be continued]

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