AUTUMN GOES ALL AWRY
Here in the Blue Mountains we had an unusually warm, dry autumn. The fear is that this is due to global warming. I really enjoyed the warmth, but it was confusing for our plants. Spring bulbs were popping up before the autumn leaves had blown away.
It was the same for the birds, so used to breeding when the weather warms up in spring. This year in Blackheath, one confused cockatoo couple made a dreadful mistake and went off to find a nesting hollow in March. Usually 2 or 3 eggs are laid, incubated for about 30 days, but this time only one chick hatched. Fortunately it was still pretty mild at that stage.
The problem was that another seven or eight weeks passed before the baby emerged from the nest and by that time the weather was …….FREEZING! Thank goodness it was fully feathered.
With all the deciduous trees now leafless it has been easier than usual to take photos of the winter chick’s progress.
The impatient youngster never shuts up, crying for food like a human baby and becoming more and more insistent. In its defence, one does need more fuel in cold weather. However, the parent bird refuses to be hurried. It’s often a Mexican stand-off.
Hey, don’t turn your back on me! I’m hungry.
Then finally, the chick’s wait is over. For a few seconds there is blissful silence…well except for a soft, contented gurgle as the food goes down. Then it’s straight back to squawking.
Much to the infant’s distress the parents have to leave, joining the flock to feed. The lawn around the local swimming complex is a favourite spot.
Before long it was time for ‘proper’ schooling. Both parents refused to let their little one go off without a good tidy up, even though it was woefully uncooperative.
Of course, when the Chick finally arrived in the classroom it was the only one there. No other cockatoo chicks would be hatched until September or October. How sad and lonely. Of course it would always be top of the class, but also always at the bottom. There would be nobody to go skating with on a frozen Blackheath duck pond (except for wood ducks). No-one its own age to raid orchards with, or nibble on timber decking.
Have you heard of the canary in the coal mine? Well folks, be warned……this could be the cockatoo of climate change.