Sunday, September 11, 2011

some birds have all the brains

Cockatoos are very gregarious animals and the bonds they form with humans can be very strong. 

Photo shamelessly used without permission of Leader Group

After 15 years of sitting freely on a perch in a Coburg [Vic] store, the Department of Sustainability and the Environment told the owner this 85 year old cockatoo must be caged.
Thankfully, with some legal aid, this cruel decision has been reversed.

These birds are amazing and can make great companions, not just highly intelligent but very loving. Or not just very loving but highly intelligent. The tragedy is that they often outlive their owners.
They can also be quite destructive and way too noisy for anyone with neighbours. There are stories of some people who make arrangements to pass birds on to the next generation but as a general rule it’s probably not a good idea to keep them as pets unless they are already old.

A day near the cocky cage at the Melbourne Zoo can be fun, especially as so many have been handed over in frustration because of the noise they make, or the owner has become too frail to care for them. If you only need to know one rude word in every language on earth to be a polyglot, the zoo is the place to do your training.

It’s long been an open secret that anyone who builds a cedar home in the country is asking for trouble: Cedar is irresistibly yummy. A canvas tent would be cheaper and would probably last longer.

But now, people in some Sydney suburbs are asking for a cull of cockatoos, because they are destroying heritage buildings – the sort which usually have wooden window frames and so on.
Parties to this problem are still considering options.

Apart from keeping house chooks in a pen to protect them from foxes [or the dogs of who-gives-a-hoot neighbours], it’s wrong to cage birds anyway unless they are going to have plenty of room in a decent sized aviary.
Budgies, I don’t mind so much because decent owners let them fly free most of the time, but keeping birds continuously locked on their own in tiny cages is rather barbaric.
[To be honest, while I was looking on YouTube for a clip about a happy cockatoo, I was sickened to see how many have been attacking themselves and stripping their feathers – a sure sign they are miserable.]

Last week the NSW Parks and Wildlife service issued a permit to execute a magpie for swooping a 13 year old girl.
Maggies of the bird variety are in the list of top ten things I love. They can be great house pets and rooly excellent watchdogs. But in the wild, if a stranger walks too close to their nests, they will swoop during the mating season.
As many Australians know from experience, when a magpie beak connects with a human head it can jolly-well hurt or draw blood.

Believing magpies don’t like eye contact, some people resort to painting a pair of big eyes on the top of a safety helmet.

Professor Gisel Kaplan from the University of New England says the eye trick is self-defeating, because it will just make the wearer look even more threatening.

Others suggest just wearing a plastic ice-cream container on your head. When I was a lot younger we didn’t have plastic ice-cream containers. [In fact, we never even had ice cream from cardboard containers, it was always home made and I never liked it anyway.]
So the trick we used was to just hold a stick up higher than our head when walking near nests, because they will only swoop at the highest part of a ‘predator’.

Does a magpie deserve to die for swooping a 13 year old girl? No.
What next? 
Vegemite flavoured crisps: An excellent source of two of the major food groups, salt and fat.
And finally, a special cornflake is being auctioned. Supposedly it will fetch a mint because of its uniquely Australian shape.
Photo shamelessly lifted from The Age 01/09/2011

Poor Tasmanians… overlooked again.

Of course, if it had the shape of the Lord's face it might become a tourist attraction rather than an auction item.


  1. I'm with you on the Magpie. That's sad...and arrogant. Humans cause so much pain and exploitation to other animals. No one blinks an eye if they hurt or kill an animal to protect themselves.

    I feel bad for the girl who got swooped. That would be scary. And I would support killing an animal in self-defense. But I don't understand executing an animal because it acted in a natural/characteristic way.

    It's not about keeping people safe, because otherwise they'd try and kill all Magpies. It's a revenge thing, which is really immature and ridiculous. It's not like the Magpie was purposely targeting the child.

    Or maybe they're trying to teach the Magpies a lesson? If they see one of their own getting executed, will that deter them from doing their own swooping?

  2. Hi Dina,
    The word revenge is perfect - I never thought of it that way before. Same thing with sharks or crocodiles. Unless they all start to wear ID tags how do we know which is which anyway?
    Not all magpies swoop at mating time, but it is very common. I'm surprised the family was surprised.
    I must confess I do kill white tail spiders, but as you say, self defense is fair.

  3. 'Tasmania overlooked again" oh bwah ha haaaaaaaaaaa you are funny.
    Came here from Dinas blog to add that I am upset to see birds caged in anything smaller than a car-sized arrangement. They MUST be able to flap their wings. god I loathe people who cannot see that. Nothing funnier than a cocky lifting its crest up and down with that "what are you looking at" expression.

  4. My great aunt had a pet galah for nearly fifty years. We had a cocky for about ten years. It was ok, except it squawked for food as soon as it heard anyone was up in the morning and also squawked at sparrows that came to clean up what he hadn't eaten. It was killed by a dog. I nearly forgot, I was given a baby cocky when I was kid. We fed it mushed peas by tipping them down its throat. It died of dehydration as no one thought to give it liquid. Horrible stuff.

    It is interesting that maggies remember some people and target them as a threat, yet someone walking with them will be ignored.

    Yes, a Peters brick cardboard might be quite ineffective.

  5. Hi Ann,
    Cockies are very funny - probably because they are so human in many ways but don't know how to be 'polite'.

    If I were about to be re-incarnated as a high-rise house guest and asked to choose between galah or cocky I would probably ask if Little Jo is an option...