Here at Canyonleigh in the New South Wales Southern Highlands, we are lucky to be situated within the Greater Eastern Wildlife Corridor. Many birds use this haven to migrate annually, and often these visitors will stop and take a bath or a drink in our garden. I like to keep the birdbath topped up with fresh rainwater. As soon as I have cleaned and refilled it, in they come!
The most shy of these birds is the beautiful yellow-tailed black cockatoo, a large parrot-beaked bird with stunning brown-black plumage, highlighted with patches of yellow on its cheeks, tail, and outstretched wings.
Then there’s the ever-present magpie with its black and white plumage; juveniles have mottled grey feathers. This intriguing bird has a melodic birdsong, one of the bird world’s most haunting and lilting calls. Magpies often strut on the grass and tilt their heads, as if listening for the presence of edible lawn grubs.
Undoubtedly the most destructive and cheeky visitors are the sulphur-crested cockatoos, a large white bird with parrot beak. It has an expandable bright yellow crest, with delicate yellow tones under its wings and tail. Cockatoos can occur in large “gangs”; able to make short work of crops on fruiting trees, as well as nibbling new growth from large eucalyptus on the forest’s edge.
An ever-present fixture is the noisy miner bird, a native who lets everyone know its presence with a raucous array of noises, especially useful in alterting us to the presence of many kinds of dangerous reptiles. The bird bath is at times rimmed with a group of them, all vying for the first dip.
I will be keeping you informed of more bird garden visitors in coming posts.