Bird Breakthrough

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Bird Breakthrough
From: Reg Clark <>
Date: Sat, 06 Sep 2003 16:08:36 +1000
Hello all,
It was a sparkling Spring morning but little did I know that I was shortly to be privileged to witness a giant step up the ladder of avian evolution which in human terms is comparable to the use of fire or the wheel. In this instance it was not the use of simple natural objects as tools, no, it was the use of a sophisticated, manufactured device, used as a weapon of attack, with devastating effect. As I stood at the large window in our bedroom taking in the beautiful morning, a large Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) swept in past the window to land with a raucous squawk and much fanning of it's bright yellow crest, on the pathway around the edge of the swimming pool below. This bird and it's mate share a secret with my wife and myself, namely,that the blue china bowl on the pool walkway, it's wooden lid held in place by a small rock, contains a handful of sunflower seed The bird then went through the appropriate procedures to get it's reward. One of these involved removing the lid and depositing it on the path about a metre away. Whilst this was being done, an intruder in the form of a Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina ) that had been skulking in the tree above, spotted the bounty now exposed, flew down and commenced eating from the bowl. The Sulphur Crested hurriedly returning confronting the the interloper who attempted to defend his prize. He was finally forced to give way in the face of that crushing beak and the terrible language. During the tussle some of the seed was spilt onto the ground, which at this point was about a metre below the walkway. The cockatoo returned to the bowl and commenced feeding. Presently it raised it's head and appeared to be listening apparently realising that instead of flying off, the Currawong had jumped to the ground and was industriously pecking at the spilled grain. The Sulphur-Crested turned it's head from side to side in that rather characteristic manner they have and waddled off down the walkway to where the focus of this epoch marking event lay,--- a pink plastic bannister brush about thirty cms.long . This brush is used to sweep up any extraneous bits left by messy feeders. The bird tugged tentatively the handle then took a more satisfactory grip at about the point of balance. Turning around, it made the return journey of about four metres carrying this avian atomic bomb in it's beak. In a very purposeful manner it waddled over to the edge of the walkway, shuffled sideways until it was precisely over the hapless Currawong feeding below. The cockie, refining it's aim, then stretched forward and released the pink plastic bannister brush , scoring a direct hit on the unsuspecting bird beneath. This bird--, more shocked than hurt by the unexpected attack and the hi-tech nature of the weapon used -- flew off shrieking, whilst the innovative Sulphur-Crested returned to it's bowl triumphant, raising and lowering it's crest and making grumbling noises which probably translated to " Tomorrow the Stars .

St.Ives, NSW

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