Crows in our Palm tree

To: "b-a" <>
Subject: Crows in our Palm tree
From: "Syd Curtis" <>
Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2000 12:37:17 +1000
Hello everybody,

I write from Hawthorne, an inner eastern suburb of Brisbane, Queensland.

In 1962 a flying-fox (fruit-bat) dropped a palm seed in the bottom of our
garden.  It is now the tallest tree (c.15 m) in the immediate neighbourhood
and a home away from home for a pair of crows, - to my considerable delight
and the occasional early-morning annoyance of some neighbours  whom we have
heard using  unparliamentary language in reference to them.   (Torresian
Crows - Corvus orru.)

The flying-fox's descendants visit at night when there are ripe palm fruits,
and I wonder whether there is one indivdual that claims the tree as its'
own.  If another flies near it is warned off in no uncertain terms.  But of
course I can't be sure that it isn't just a matter of whichever individual
occupies the tree first on the night.  (Very vocal, are flying-foxes.  There
just might be something in the theory that they are more closely related to
Primates than to Bats proper.)

But the crows are my main delight.  What a wonderful variety of sounds they
can produce with those rather plain rough voices.   They can't nest there of
course, but when they don't have a nest to attend to, that's where they like
to sit, occasionally 'talking' quietly, but mostly just enjoying each
other's company and the idyllic life style we humans have provided for them
with out discarded food scraps and all hunting banned.

In mid-summer two young crows (dark eyes) were perched on a neighbour's roof
beaks gaping in the heat.  (I'm guessing the gaping is a cooling mechanism?)
My old birds, beaks closed, sat comfortably on a shaded stem of a palm
frond.    No matter what the weather or where the sun is, there's always one
of the fronds suited their need on the day.

Other birds visit occasionally - Rainbow Lorikeets when there are flowers,
for example - and a few days ago I was alerted to an unusual visitor by the
sound of Pied Butcherbird alarm/threat notes.   Three Butcherbirds
performing vertical loops aimed at the top of the palm.  The smallish
raptor, fairly well concealed, flew off before I could get a good look at
it.  One of the Falcons I guess.

Perhaps of more interest though, was the Spangled Drongo also performing
vertical loops with the Butcherbirds.   Often, the first indication I have
of an S. Drongo in our garden, is just the call that the butcherbirds were
using.  We do get butcherbirds visiting but they perch on vantage points
usually roof tops, and when I hear the voice coming from within the branches
of a tree in the garden, I can be almost certain it is S. Drongo mimicking a
butcherbird.   Was the S. Drongo using that call when diving at the raptor?
I'd love to know, but there was no way of telling.  Probably not.   But it
wasn't making any S. Drongo calls, so I wonder.

Syd Curtis

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