Beak & feather disease

To: "chat line" <>
Subject: Beak & feather disease
From: "John Layton" <>
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2006 09:28:01 +1000
Twenty minutes ago, I heard a cacophony of Magpies' alarm calls and raced outside fully expecting to have to eject Furball, Ms Neighbour's cat, from whatever cat-astrophe the beguiling little brute had initiated.
A Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, suffering from beak and feather disease (in my uniformed opinion as far as avian diseases go) was perched on a power cable. A pitiful sight sans crest and very little plumage on its underparts.
Four Magpies and seven Magpie Larks were also perched on the cable. The magpies were doing most, if not all the calling, and certainly all the attacking. Three of four times a duo would launch a coordinated attack by swooping close to the cockatoo's head as the cockatoo snapped its bill at them.
Three more agro Maggies arrived, as well as four Magpie-larks and two pair of Crimson Rosellas. The latter sat still and mute. Four Pied Currawongs flew in but remained in a tree well away from the action. After about three minutes, the cockatoo flew away, seemingly, its flying ability unimpaired by the beak & feather disease. Most of the magpies flew after it as did the cautious currawongs. Within seconds I'd lost sight of them, and the other birds quietly dissipated.
So, I wonder if all this was an avian version of the way people used to stone lepers in days of yore or, without its crest, the cockatoo may have appeared to be a raptor, perhaps a Grey Goshawk.
John Layton.
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