Monday 14 June 2021

Blogjune Day 14 - Canberra birdlife

One of the first things I noticed about moving to Canberra, almost five years ago now, is the birds. Where, in my previous place in the inner West of Sydney, I'd be woken up by the first flight out of Sydney airport, I'd now be woken by the birds. If I were lucky, it would be the soft warbling of magpies or currawongs. In my current apartment, the nearby conifers are more inclined to attract swarms of sulfur-crested cockatoos or corellas.

From waking up, to getting on my bike for the 20-minute commute to work, here's a list of the different kinds of birds that I might spot on any given morning.

Sulfur-crested cockatoos - the screechy ones.
These are terrifying if you're not expecting them, and can act as an effective morning alarm clock. As a kid, there was a guy who'd hang out out the front of the local supermarket with one of these guys on his shoulder, and had been trained to repeat, 'Hello cocky' if you greeted it with these words. I'm much happier to see flocks of the less domesticated variety these days.

Corellas - also screechy, but with blue eyes. Whilst they are almost as noisy as the sulfur-crested cockatoo, I had never seen these birds before moving to Canberra.

Galahs - not as noisy as you'd think. Galahs have a bad rep, thanks to Alf from Home and Away, but on closer inspection, they are much more charming as the aforementioned native Australian birds. They're more inclined to chirp than squawk (with the exception of their young, which are more reminiscint of a bad Bob Hawke impersonation).

Currawongs - avian predators. I occasionally see these on the balcony, and their big beaks terrify me. And it turns out that I'm not entirely unjustified - they've been known to feed on small birds. And cycling through the city around dusk, you can see them all lined up along the tops of the buildings, calling to and fro. It's a beautiful sound, but also possibly marking the advent of a Hitchcock-esque bird apocalypse.

White-winged choughs - demonic foragers. It's not uncommon to see groups of these birds scratching around patches of lawn or parkland, and their red eyes, curved beaks and haunting calls are like something that's emerged from the depths of hell.

Magpies - savage swoopers. As we approach late winter, I'm starting to keep an eye on the MagpieAlert website, because come August, swooping season starts. Last year, I had to completely change my cycling route to work. I don't even bother with cable-ties or googly eyes on my helmet. They don't work.

Gang gang cockatoos - the fancy ones
I only see these once in a while, but when I do it always feels like a special occasion.

I could go on... special mentions include superb fairy wrens, grass parrots, king parrots, and the occasional yellow-tailed black cockatoo. Whatever I spot each morning, it makes for a pleasant start to the day.

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