Thursday, September 17, 2009

A New Icon?

Many years ago there was a President at the University of New Mexico who was being driven crazy by the crows that congregated in the lovely large cottonwoods outside his University home. He was so bothered by their cawing that, if my memory serves me correctly, he had the grounds keepers shoot off guns and light fireworks to scare the birds away. I wonder what he would have done had a flock of cockatoos moved in!!!
The first time I saw a cockatoo in the wild was while driving around the Fleurieu Peninsula. It was a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. The large white bird with a yellow crest was acrobatically hanging upside down eating nuts in a pine tree.
I have since seen hundreds, if not thousand of Cockatoos. The Sulpher-crested, and the Galah, pale grey and pink in color, are the most common. They are often seen in large flocks that are hard to miss because of their loud shriek--an ear piercing cacophony that is ever present at dawn and dusk.
In addition to being loud singers, they also love to eat. Depending on the species, you may see them covering trees where they eagerly devour the nuts, flowers and bark; or on the ground in search of seeds and insects. You can tell when a flock of Cockatoos has visited a tree, by the debris that is left on the ground.
One late afternoon when driving near the Flinders Ranges a flock of Sulpher-Crested Cockatoos performed an arial ballet for us. The white ball of birds moved gracefully and effortlessly across the sky in a perfectly choreographed dance. It was one of those visions that will never be forgotten.
Over the past year, I have come to view the Cockatoo as another Australian icon.


  1. I'm thinking of getting an air horn for my birds:/

  2. Suzer, I would rather hear the shrieks of the birds than the drunks from the Grand Hotel. At least the birds are quiet at night!