Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rainbow Lorikeets

The Rainbow Lorikeet is a very striking bird, which we see all the time in Adelaide.  Every tree with blossom, and many without, holds large numbers of these, even in streets with heavy traffic.  Green body and the dark blue head draw the eye, then you see the bright red beak, and the blue, orange, pink and yellow on the abdomen, variable between individuals.  The screech is easily identified, and they are often seen in the suburbs with musk lorikeets, which don't have the blue and orange; they are green with red ear patches, so easily distinguished from their rainbow cousins.

Rainbow lorikeets feed on nectar and pollen, with a brush-shaped tongue. They also eat the blossoms, insects and fruit.  Their red eyes regard you briefly before returning to their voracious feeding.  They are found around most of Australia's coastline except for the very dry parts. 

Friday, November 20, 2009

Boobook Owl

The Boobook Owl is one of the smallest and most common of Australia's owls, found everywhere including towns and cities.  It is often attacked by flocks of small birds, who no doubt think they'll get the predator while its eyes are closed!  It spends the day in dark areas or amongst thick leaves, and at dusk comes out to fly silently, hunting rats and mice, beetles and moths, and small birds.  Its call of "mopoke" or "boobook" identifies it.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Australian Magpies

 We're almost to the end of spring here in Adelaide, and the magpies have been protecting their nests by swooping on passersby.  This is common enough and you have to be prepared by wearing a hat, or waving a stick at them.  They can actually injure people, they have been known to draw blood.  Some people call them aggressive but they're just doing what comes naturally, protecting their young.  The chicks remain in the nest for about a month and are still dependent for another two months, growing almost as big as their parents while being fed, but are lighter in colour.

Magpies carolling is a wonderful sound, this song can be heard at any time but mostly in the mornings.  Are they welcoming the day, I wonder?  They are most interested when you walk past them.  I often see them down at my local park where I walk by the river, and they strut about on the grass looking for insects, looking straight at you and following you with their eyes.  The Australian Magpie received its name from the early British settlers, although it is a different species from the British Magpie.  It just looks similar.

The photo is one of my Mixed Media wallhangings, the magpie being fabric-painted, and the nest made of various hairy and furry yarns.  I often use birds as inspiration for embroidery and other fabric art.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Holland Honeyeater

Today it is 38 degreees Celsius, and while I waited for a bus, I watched a New Holland Honeyeater in a tree, with its beak wide open, which is how birds cool themselves down.  It was amazingly wide open.  After a while it fluttered to a beautiful purple bloom (this was a Jacaranda Tree), poked its beak inside and helped itself to nectar.  These little birds also eat insects.  They are common along the Australian coastline, which is where they gained their name (Australia used to be called New Holland, presumably by the Dutch explorers.  Notice the slightly curving beak, which helps it to raid blossoms for nectar.  It favours grevilleas, banksias and gum trees (eucalypts) but as I saw today, it will utilise imported trees too.