During the past few years visits by Sulphur-crested Cockatoos – AKA
Cacatua greedyeta around here – to the home garden appear to have
increased markedly, and the birds are expanding their foraging to
include food sources seemingly ignored in the past.
I've long given up on an almond crop after C. greedyeta discovered
the trees years ago. Last autumn, when the White Cedar tree shed its
leaves, they promptly consumed all the berries (about four
wheelbarrow loads) as we watched and concluded they possessed the ingestive
capability of a wood-chipper's tree shredder.
Then, a couple of weeks back, C. greedyeta deprived
us of our quince crop. They've never touched it before. Nonetheless, I remained
philosophical, "Never mind, we'll just have to do without the heady, herbaceous
aroma of ripening quinces wafting through our sunny kitchen come autumn," I
"Maybe you can get some quince-scented air freshener and spray it
around," Brilliance-the-brat, suggested.
The raucous raiders inspected our apricot tree and,
by sundown the following day, the apricots had gone west in the cargo pods
of the C-130. greedyeta fleet. They moved to the medlar tree
but seemed at a loss – like we used to be until we discovered how to make medlar
jam – as to what to do with the strange looking fruit that
wouldn't seem out of place in a medieval witch's kitchen.
Next, they attacked the Satsuma plum tree. For years this spindly little
tree blessed us with a plethora of small, sweet plums come late February.
Alas, within 48 hours C. greedyeta put paid to that.
"Ah so," we shrugged, "sayonara to Satsuma crop of '08."
Then, the cockatoos struck the crab apple tree. They've never touched
it before. But what a mess they made of it this year. Ah well, no crab apple
jell to put on roast rabbits no more.
After that, they began feasting on the catkins of the neighbour's Silver
Birch. A little surprising because I thought the fruit
would prove too fiddly for the big cockatoos to handle. But no, I
under-estimated their foot-to-mouth manipulative prowess. Over past years
they've ignored the neghbour's birch, but not so the Crimson Rosellas. But
the the rosellas have refined table manners, they don't rip, tear and strip like
the sulphfur-crested coyotes do. Interestingly, the rosellas have never touched
our Silver Birch, so hopefully the cockatoos will follow suite –
touch birch wood.
Finally – and, by heck, I hope it is finally – C. greedyeta turned
their avarice to the fruits of exotic cypress shrubs in a neigbouring garden
(they must possess the metabolism of a landfill feral goat) and, again, what a
mess they made.
A fruitless John K. Layton