Re: Rose carrying ScC & Melbourne birdos.

To: "Muir Environmental" <>
Subject: Re: Rose carrying ScC & Melbourne birdos.
From: "Philip A Veerman" <>
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 12:26:12 +1100
Muir Environmental wrote about cockatoo carrying a rose:
I would have thought that Melbourne based students of ornithology could have
offered more.
I'll add just a little correction. This message board is accessed by a much
more dispersed range of people than Melbourne based. I am in Canberra but I
see contributions from all over. As to the Cockatoo question, I noticed it
but did not respond. It is very difficult to suggest any adaptive
significance to a one-off observation. Cockatoos are very inclined to bite
off all sorts of plant material and sometimes fly off carrying it. They do
this with my apples but are mainly interested in eating the seeds. Your
observation may be this or something along the lines that the bird just
wanted something to manipulate with its mouth.

-----Original Message-----
From: Muir Environmental <>
To: Brian Fleming <>; sonnenburg <>
Cc: 'birding-aus @ deakin' <>
Date: Tuesday, 17 November 1998 16:24
Subject: Re: UK birders, Frivilous Replies and Caper Whites

>> From: Brian Fleming <>
>> To: sonnenburg <>
>> Cc: 'birding-aus @ deakin' <>
>> Subject: Re: UK birders, Frivilous Replies and Caper Whites
>> Date: Friday, 30 October 1998 18:26
>> sonnenburg wrote:
>> >
>> > A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo carrying
>> > a pink rose and asked for serious scientific comment.  I can only say
>> > that my replies can at best be described as frivolous, lacking totally
>> > in meaningful reasoning.   I would have thought that Melbourne based
>> > students of ornithology could have offered more.
>> >
>> > This behaviour has been described in Fairy-Wrens as furgling and there
>> > was an article in Sunbird in July 1990.  But what of Cockatoos?
>> >
>> > Cheers
>> > Roy Sonnenburg
>> >
>> Dear Roy, Re Sulphur-crested Cockatoo carrying pink rose.
>>    I can't remember whether your cocky was carrying it in beak or foot.
>> I have seen SC cockies feeding on dry thistle and artichoke-thistle
>> heads - they often flew off carrying a head by the stem in a foot -
>> (always the left foot incidentally) -if startled, and then went on with
>> seed-extracting on a branch.  Cockies will bite anything - to see what
>> it's like?  I have no idea why they eat bits off cedar window-frames
>> either but they do - beak-exercise?
>>    I have also heard of a pair of Eastern Rosellas who bit off all the
>> flowers from a flowering cherry - I doubt if they found nectar there
>> either.
>>    Where lorikeets and other parrots have been feeding in gumblossom,the
>> ground is always carpeted with dropped blossom. But i haven't ever SEEN
>> lorikeets biting blossom off, they just lick at nectar.  Perhaps the
>> flower stems are broken by all the clambering feet?
>>    I don't think any of these remarks answer your query, but best I can
>> do. No-one who has ever known a pet cocky doubts their intelligence, so
>> perhaps we should admit they sometimes do odd or experimental things
>> from curiosity or for fun.
>>    Best wishes, ANTHEA FLEMING
>Hi Roy (and Anthea)
>A belated response...
>Regrettably I did not see (and enjoy) the responses to which you refer -
>but I can imagine what some of them must have been.  Sorry, but I can't
>help but be amused.
>But on the serious side, I'm sure its recognised by Birding-Aussers that
>animals have a purpose in (almost) everything they do - basically related
>to survival or maintaining the species.  And as activities take energy, and
>the source of that energy, food, is not as easily available, one could say,
>as it is to us, animals must be as efficient as possible in their use of
>that energy.  So, we ask what is the survival or reproduction purpose of
>the Cockatoo carrying a pink rose?
>My son came up with an idea that may not be as silly as it at first sounds.
> Rose petals are soft - he suggested maybe this bird was putting the petals
>in its nest, making a softer bed for eggs/nestlings???????  Or maybe they
>taste nice and the bird was carrying them to its mate, or young??? - I'm
>guessing you posted your question in early-mid October - the breeding
>season......  Maybe there's something in the smell of the petals also....,
>or the colour, etc etc.
>Re the food (survival) aspect, I have seen Ring-necked Parrot (sometimes
>alone, or in small groups of up to 3 or 4, occasionally more) in our front
>garden (semi-rural) standing on the path snipping off introduced daisy
>flowers, and while holding the stem (I forget which foot, or if one foot
>was preferred over the other), occasionally chewing some of the leaves,
>petals or stem, then apparently "playing" with these until losing interest
>and dropping them.  They then either select another delicacy of the same
>species, or fly off to other activities.  I have not seen the birds
>carrying away any of the flowers, however.  But I am now watching for this.
>And, under our Calistemon is often a carpet of (often otherwise unmolested)
>flowers with short stems where the Ring-necked Parrots have been.  I
>sometimes wonder if they're removing this food source for rival species (eg
>honeyeaters).  But this would also disadvantage the parrots.....
>I agree with Anthea's comment (above) re cocky intelligence.  Some years
>ago, during heavy rain, I investigated an amazing cacaphony of screeching
>by Galahs uphill from our house.  While continuously screeching, the birds
>were taking it in turns to fly rapidly at the top of the guy wire
>supporting a power pole, grabbing the guy wire with both feet, and with the
>impetus caused by their rapid flight at the wire, they spun around the wire
>which was very wet and slippery.  They then spun all the way down the guy
>wire to just above head-clobbering point with the ground, and flew off and
>back up to the top.  As I said, they took it in turns (more or less).  This
>continued for maybe 10 to 15 minutes (if I recall correctly).  It seemed
>quite obvious they were having a ball.... and it was very entertaining to
>The New Zealand parrot, Kea, is notorious for deliberately letting down
>vehicle tyres (by unscrewing and removing the cap), pulling at (or out)
>wiper blade rubbers, and generally getting up to what we would call all
>sorts of mischief.  Is this basic survival or reproduction behaviour?  My
>anthopomorphic side suggests they do it for fun.
>I also heard a hillarious story of a Kea that undid the zip of our friend's
>tent, entered, and raided the honey and flour, coming out later looking
>like a sticky albino.   Obviously, that was related to food - i.e.
>survival.  But how and why did the bird learn how to open the zip?  By
>curiosity?  By experimentation?  Had it been able to smell food inside
>tents, and learned how to get at it?  You'd think it'd be very cautious of
>the unknowns of the inside of a tent.  I think I'm now asking more
>questions than giving "answers".....
>Perhaps there really is something other than just purely the basics of
>species survival in this Sulphur-crested Cockatoo's rose collecting
>Would you perhaps briefly discuss "furgling".  I don't appear to have
>access to "Sunbird" over here in the Wild West (WA).
>Best wishes
>and may we always have enquiring minds....
>Jennifer Muir
>Muir Environmental

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Re: Rose carrying ScC & Melbourne birdos., Philip A Veerman <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU