21 December 2015

Colors of the season

Despite being Australasia's winter (or dry season, depending on the location) my mother & I spotted exuberant fowl endemic to the region.  Shark Bay's protected 2.2 million hectares supports 100 reptile and 230 bird species alone, comprising 35% of Australia's total!


Found only in the state of Western Australia, White-tailed Cockatoo flocks indicate precipitation, appearing just before the rain.

A male Plum-headed Parakeet with his variety of pastels.  Like the majority of animal species, the male has more vivid colors, in this case, a rosy head.  Hilariously, its contact call is an "oink."

Red King Parrots like I saw six years earlier at Australia Zoo. Also displaying a pastel palette, Princess Parrots.


The male Mulga Parrots displayed the most iridescent aquamarine of any wildlife I've ever seen.

These Gang Gang Cockatoos were so cuddly with each other I assumed they were a species of Lovebirds.

This Australian Magpie sang the loveliest song though there was no other fowl around.  At times it was shrill; once I swear I heard the Star Wars theme; mostly I mistook its call for a bleating lamb though.  I sat outside the Kalbarri Visitors Centre enraptured by its timbre for half an hour.


The bright Collared Lory is endemic only to Fiji.

Major Mitchell's Cocaktoo can live up to 75 years in captivity!  They are named in homage to Sir Thomas Mitchell who exalted them by writing, "Few birds more enliven the monotonous hues of the Australian forest than this beautiful species..."

The Purple-crowned Lorikeets wore permanent blush.

Unlike the majority of its scientific family (Honeyeaters), the Yellow-throated Miner prefers insects to the usual fruit and nectar.  They are known for being bold birds, as proven by this fellow who flit into our campervan.

The Golden Dove, though more green, had a distinct woolly call.

Star Finches with their distinct, firetruck red faces.

The Blue & Yellow Macaw was always wary of the Sony Action Cam.

The Red-capped Parrot is unmistakable up close due to its pronounced upper beak (a Hookbill).  The beak evolved since the bird needs to pry Marri seeds from Eucalypt capsules.

With its unmistakable black jowls, the Alexandrine Parakeet was supposedly named after the ancient ruler (Alexander The Great) who brought them home as battle spoils from a far away land.

The scruffy Kaka a.k.a. Red Shining Parrot is a Fijian icon, printed on dollars and coins.  Ironically, its body is more crimson whereas the Crimson Shining Parrot's body is standard red.

Black-headed Caiques are the Jack Russell Terriers of the parrot families.  These playful, active birds are also found in South America.

This plump Hooded Parrot remained nestled between the branches.  Hooded Parrots nest in termite mounds but are the only species [of the three Psephotus] that has a thriving population.  One of the other species is already extinct & the second, endangered.

The Eastern Curlew's bill fulfills a third of its total length.  Mom & I watched this skiddish bird dodge the more aggressive Seagulls as it [successfully] probed the shores of Coral Bay.


Omivorous Scarlet and Green-winged Macaws are one of the many fowl species that -- like humans -- choose life partners.

When initially imported from South America, locals paid $8,000 for Sun Conures!

From Freo a.k.a. Fremantle to the middle of the outback, Djakal-Ngakals a.k.a. Galahs appeared abundantly throughout Western Australia.

The oddly-named Darmoorluk a.k.a. 28 Parrot was deemed such due to its call.  They warded off malicious spirits in the bush and were only eaten by certain Aboriginal groups in desperation. 

I hated to leave this Red-tailed Black Cockatoo because he clearly needed social stimulation.  He was curious about my mother & me, and would follow us [in his cell] as we looked at the other birds.

A covey of Brown Quails and a Blue-breasted Quail.  Like many pheasants -- and a Chinchilla my cousin once owned -- they prefer dust to water baths.

How can you tell the two parrots below are males?  Easy!  Females are entirely green and were once thought to be an entirely different subspecies.  Interestingly, the Eclectus Parrot is the only surviving species of its genus (also Eclectus).  The other bird species became extinct some 3,000 years ago.


Zebra Finches commonly weigh less than half an ounce -- and they're not even the smallest Finches! They prefer drier areas which would explain why I first observed them at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.  Though not exhibited in Rainbow Jungle, they swarmed -- uninvited -- through the open-air enclosure, often swooping past my head like stout rubber ducks.  As you can see below, there really was no keeping them out.

Did you know Wanamalu a.k.a. Pied Cormorants have extremely nutrient-rich feces thanks to consuming double their body weight in fish?  They are so abundant throughout the state and country that flocks have created islands of scat measuring one meter in thickness!  From the poorest pirate to the wealthiest king, people would go to war in Australian waters over the precious Pied Cormorants' excrement since it sourced gun powder.  Imagine, thousands of men waging their lives for poop!


The Yellow Rosella and its cousins the Northern Rosella & Pale-headed Rosella.  "Rosella" is a derivative of "Rose Hill" in NSW a.k.a. New South Wales where European settlers first gazed upon these Australian parrots.

It never fanned its tail, but the green and brown patterned feathers on this peacock were mesmerizing. Plus, I never knew their legs were cream-colored!


Western Corellas are easily identified as a member of Cockatoos and by the bare patch of bluish-gray around their eyes.  How many can you count in the tree (in Exmouth) below?

With its high-pitched call, this little Broad-billed Flycatcher was hanging out alone at the end of the jetty in Monkey Mia.



THE UNIDENTIFIABLES:

After a while touring Kalbarri's Rainbow Jungle, a lot of the birds started to look similar to my untrained eye -- especially the green birds because there were so many.  Despite all my Google searches, I could not find this colorful, red-capped critter.

These are not Eastern Curlews due to their short beak, but they scoured the shore of Port Gregory much like Curlews do.

Again, all the green birds started to run together in my mind.  These could be Little Parrots, but they look too big.  These could be Musk Parrots, but don't seem to have the light blue cap indicative of the species.  I'm at a loss.


Billy is a local hit at this avian sanctuary.  While wandering the premises I greeted each bird with a "Hello" but I was shocked when he responded "How are you?"  Allegedly he knows a few curse words and how to use them!  He was so darn cute and chatty, but I cannot -- for the life of me -- recall what kind of bird he is?!  Hoping Billy would talk with me more, I turned on the Sony Action Cam but he acted quite dodgy a.k.a. skeptical of it.


THE RAINBOW BUNCH:

Rainbow Lorikeets that swarmed the trees when I lived in Mackay, QLD a.k.a. Queensland.  Though eye-catching, these birds are ubiquitous throughout Australia but are so aggressive they are destroying many local avian populations.

Scarlet-chested Parrots are almost a rainbow, missing only orange.  However, most in the world are not pure, with certain colors bred in to the subspecies.

Equally rainbow, the Eastern Rosella reminded me of Santa Claus with his red head & white beard.

Interestingly, together the male and female Fischer's Lovebirds encompass the colors of a rainbow, save violet. Yin & yang in harmony.



The prettiest of all the birds I saw in Australia and Fiji was the Gouldian Finch.  Stout, but colorful, I noticed it on the ground.  It wore an array of vibrant colors which contrasted its dark face to hide its eyes.

Though the Gouldian Finch was the prettiest bird, the Kookaburra has long been my favorite since I first heard its call every day while living in Mackay, QLD a.k.a. Queensland.  It's unmistakable and reminds me of a menacing laugh The Joker would utter.  Kookaburras are sinister looking fowl with elongated, sharp beaks and masked eyes.  Their appearance matches their personalities too, as they will eat whatever, even preying on other baby birds.


Jurrunas a.k.a. pelicans were plentiful along the coast, especially at Monkey Mia where they frequently interrupted dolphin feedings, swam past tourists or intermixed with flocks of other water fowl.  Many stood as large as an elementary student.  At Kings Botanical Garden in Perth, Mom & I mistook a flying pair for drones because they were so monstrous from afar.  Yet we learned in Monkey Mia to never feed one by hand due to the hazardously hooked tip at the end of their beak.


However, the best birds could have been any species really.  Once I identified the patterns, I came to search the horizon for flocks of migrants streaking across the sky in a steady, flexing line above the sea.  While manning the volunteers' window at Monkey Mia, I watched birds cross the beach for 10 minutes, non-stop.  They moved so swiftly there was no time to quantify them, but somehow more materialized and flew past. This endless flow of birds would not exert all their effort to mobilize unless there was a jackpot at the final destination: a temporary, all-you-can-eat fish buffet.  Wherever the hoards landed, there would be a frenzy of Wanamalu diving, wings slapping against the water sending up a curtain of spray, and -- my jackpot -- bobbing dolphin dorsals amongst the pandemonium.


No comments:

Post a Comment