Lately, members have been reporting their bird-watching highlights during
the past year. Here's an unusual one for you. Unusual in itself, and unusual
because it occurred when I was seven and I've never forgotten it.
We lived in a homestead 13 miles east of Wagga Wagga and, young as I was, I
drove my elders nuts interrogating them about the local birds. I particularly
coveted the parrots that came into the garden - Eastern and Yellow Rosellas and
Red-rumped Parrots, or Grass Parrots as we called the RRPs.
Anyhow, late one summer afternoon, I was playing in the backyard when a
house cat walked up to me carrying a Red-rumped Parrot in her mouth. Somehow, I
discerned the little bird was still alive. I knelt beside the cat and
grasped the parrot's tail feathers. As I remember, I didn't tug because I didn't
want to hurt it. To my amazement, Puss immediately opened her mouth and
released it. Then she sat and looked at me. Perhaps it was a similar situation
to that whereby your cat walks into the kitchen, deposits a mangled mouse
on the floor, and looks up at you as much to say, "Look at what I've
brought home! Am I not a good and faithful provider?"
So, for two magical seconds I held the parrot by its tail. Then, suddenly,
it sprang forth and flew away leaving me in a state of semi-shock holding the
This begs the question: does anyone know if birds (or some birds) have the
ability to shed their tail feathers in order to escape a predator's clutches? I
am reminded that some skinks and lizards shed their tails, run away and grow a