There is no one more upset when a bird is killed or injured than my partner Rob. He is known as Dr Bob, for his ministrations to all manner of feathered creatures in our Blackheath garden. He scrubs out the birdbaths far more often than me, and respectfully buries any poor bird that falls victim to accident, foxes or a marauding cat.
The only birds he feels any real animosity toward are currawongs, which once harassed our nesting frogmouth and stole her eggs.
I try to tell Bob it’s just nature, but he truly believes currawongs have an innately cruel streak.
Now I have to say that the most quarrelsome birds in our Blue Mountains garden are wattlebirds, which pursue smaller nectar feeders (and each other) relentlessly. It’s just as well we have very good cover.
I was spending a few days in Sydney recently, while Bob worked frantically on our new house, organizing half a dozen sub-contractors as the installation of the kitchen approaches. He is a very fit fellow and thoroughly enjoying the project, so I was surprised to receive a rather downbeat message from him; ‘I’ve had a dreadful day….we were flat out until after dark. Plus, while I was saving a wattlebird from a damn currawong I fell over and hurt my hand. I had to put the wattlebird in the hospital box. BUT THE CURRAWONG LOST!”
I was bemused on a couple of fronts. Firstly, wattlebirds are much lighter and more agile than currawongs and would not normally be under serious threat from them. Secondly, I couldn’t understand how Bob perceived the currawong as the loser when both he and the wattlebird had been injured. He was too exhausted to be questioned any further, poor lamb.
Next morning I asked how he was; ‘I’m a bit sore and weary, but I must go on. Are you coming home soon? I hopped on the 9.48 train and was back home by lunchtime, to offer solace and hear the full story.
A SORRY TALE UNFOLDS
Apparently there was a territorial battle between the two birds and the wattlebird accidentally flew into a window and knocked itself out. To Bob’s horror, the opportunistic currawong saw a free meal. As it pounced on its limp victim, he ran down the side of the house waving his arms and shouting (well, swearing no doubt!). Unfortunately, he tripped and fell, landing on top of both birds. Oh my word, it must have looked like a scene from Keystone Cops. Mr Currawong recovered and flew off, leaving his opponents with concussion and a badly sprained thumb respectively. Builders need their thumbs, so that wasn’t good. The wattlebird recovered after a couple hours in ‘intensive care’ and flew off to continue bullying spinebills and silvereyes.
Hmm, I fail to see how Mr C. could be considered the loser myself, except for missing out on a takeaway dinner! A cicada had to suffice.