My older sister gave me a late night, graphic account of Hitchcock’s The Birds after going to see that creepy movie many years ago. She was such a good storyteller that I lay awake in a state of terror. However, since then I have become an absolute lover of all feathered creatures, and my Blue Mountains garden is full of them.

Only the destructive, sulphur crested cockatoos give me cause to worry, mainly because our new house has cedar window frames and wooden balcony railings. 😨 Cockatoos love to chew, and just look at that beak.

NOW THAT’S A BEAK! (Image credit – Quora)

Yesterday a cheeky cocky was sitting in a hairpin banksia (Banksia spinulosa) feeding on old seed cones and severely ‘pruning’ the new growth. I took a quick pic and moved closer, expecting it to fly off. To my surprise it just sat there. In the end I walked right up and shook the tree….well it’s just a shrub really. ‘OK, that’s enough now. Off you go!

Cockatoo feasting on banksia cones. An  episode of Hitchcock's The Birds ensued.

There was no reaction whatsoever, except that the wretched bird expressed some annoyance by raising its crest.

Raised crest of the sulphur crested cockatoo. An episode of Hitchcock's The Birds ensued.

When I called my partner Rob up from the garage he was as bemused as me. He kept shaking the shrub until the Cocky finally hopped down, trotted along the path and disappeared under our partly constructed deck. It simply sat there… attempt to fly, or even move.

Meanwhile we realized it was a juvenile, and that its parents were watching intently from a nearby gum tree.

These cockatoos appeared in what began to resemble an episode of Hitchcock's  The Birds.

By this point we were worried that the poor thing was injured. Rob pounced on it with a towel, and popped it into our cardboard resuscitation box, used for birds which accidently fly into windows. I’d estimate the now squawking patient spent less than 10 seconds in ‘hospital’ before scrambling out and shooting into the garage like the cartoon character Roadrunner.

Poor Rob turned pale. He had been staining boards for the new deck when I called him up to the banksia. There was still a huge, open tin of brown stain on the garage floor. Worse still, we had antique furniture stored around the walls. The thought of a panic stricken cockatoo knocking over the oily stain then careering around a confined space made us both feel ill.

Somehow it scrambled to the top of a grandfather clock. I couldn’t bring myself to watch, but fortunately Rob managed to shoo it out the door, where it sat on the brick driveway, screeching as only a cockatoo can.

By now the parents had flown down to the roof. I hoped they didn’t blame us in any way for the situation. Their crests were raised in alarm and all I could think of was the horror of Hitchcock’s The Birds. What if they attacked us the way protective magpies do? I could even imagine them calling for reinforcements… there must be a hundred or more cockatoos living around our village of Blackheath.

And what to do next? Should we catch the youngster again and call Wires (the animal rescue people)? OMG!….the sight of Rob grabbing it a second time might tip the parents over the edge.

Cockatoos, watching on like an episode of Hitchcock's The Birds.

We were still considering our options when the cocky gathered its wits, then flew up to a maple tree, apparently fit as the proverbial fiddle. For heaven’s sake!


It was joined a few seconds later by the adults. Oh the relief…on both their part and ours. The three of them sat bonding and preening for the next hour while Rob and I hugged each other and had a restorative cup of tea. ☕ I honestly have no explanation for the young bird’s strange behaviour.


  1. Well I apologise immediately, but confess I had to laugh. Very graphically described so thank you for bringing such a smile to my face so early on a frozen wintery North Yorkshire Thursday morning. Glad to know that all ended well! Happy New Year. xx

    • Pauline

      I’m glad it gave you a laugh Marcia. Do be careful on your frozen hill! 🥰

    Thank you, Chris

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