White parrots - winners and losers

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Subject: White parrots - winners and losers
From: Julian Robinson <>
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2008 01:01:46 +1100
A few months after I first started following birds in mid-2006, I 'discovered' Corellas and took some notice of them from then on.  Very occasionally here in lower Narrabundah we  would observe a flock flying over, perhaps once a month or two on average, which used to please me because they were so uncommon.  However in a very short time things have changed, until now, for the last 6 months, Corellas have passed my place every single day, usually many times.  They've become common here in only a year.

Separately from this, in the last 6 months I've kind of adopted a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo who took to appearing at my office window and just sitting there watching until I'd go down and put out some seed on the balcony.  After a while it started appearing with a friend, so I had two SC Cockatoos that I would feed reasonably regularly.  I know... I know, I don't really know why I do it, but ... not rational. Actually my location in a block of units bordering the golf course is a bird desert, or at least a desert for interesting birds.  My observations are so incredibly boring that I have to admit I gave up on my garden bird survey.  I know I shouldn't have, especially as things have turned out, but it really was mind-numbingly boring.  This is one of the reasons I encouraged the SC Cockatoos, they were a little bit different.  I fed them reasonably regularly despite thinking white cockies must be some of the toughest and most dominating birds around, not exactly in need of our support.

So today I was surprised by the following events...

I came home to find one of "my"cockies busy chewing up the tray that I use as a bird table.  So I put some seed out for it, at the same time noticing that it behaved differently from either of my two regulars, so was probably a different bird.  A minute or so later I looked out to see that a second had turned up, then three ... I went to the balcony and to my astonishment there was a Hitchcockian array of large white birds all lined up on the fence that separates us from the golf course, more on the sidings between me and both adjacent units and still more above me - on the gutter of the roof above the balcony.  What was more surprising was that most of them were Corellas, an absolute first to see them perched anywhere in the vicinity. I've never seen them around here other than than flying overhead.   It was astounding  - there were at least 4 Long-billed Corellas, 9 Little Corellas, 1 half-half Corella and 5 SC Cockatoos,  I don't know the actual numbers because the ones on the roof were invisible until I went out on to the balcony, at which time all those close to the balcony would fly off and confuse the issue. 


I have never seen more than three cockatoos on the fence before, and never a single corella -- now they were wall to wall.  It was far more strange than my little panorama shows, quite bizarre, as they were very active, flying from the fence to the roof and back, displacing one another and having goes at each other all the time.  But then things got really strange.  At first there were the 3 cockies at my bird table, which is only a couple of metres from where I stand at the door.  Two flew off when I came out to look, leaving only my original 'mate'. After 30 seconds or so, the 2 came back ... until ... a single Long-billed Corella (LBC) flew down, two of the cockies flew off immediately and the LBC physically attacked the other one until it left too.  At which point a collection of corellas flew to the table and started feeding voraciously.  The cockies were completely subjugated and sat on the fence and outer edges watching.  There was a lot of activity, fighting and to-ing and fro-ing, with cockies swooping corellas and vice versa, pecking and flying birds attacking perched birds with their feet.  But the summary is that the Corellas completely dominated the cockatoos, in particular one Little Corella that eventually would remain at the table even when I was standing close. It would peck and move threateningly every time a cockatoo got close, and looked completely in command.


The business ended strangely as well - a squawk from one bird and the whole lot, all three species, took off at once and disappeared.  Not one bird remained.

If my experience is any guide, Canberra is going to have Corellas as much or more than it does Crested Pigeons.  If Corellas can dominate Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, is anything likely to stop them?
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