Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

A couple of weeks ago my partner D mentioned that he was listening to a visiting American comedian being interviewed on the radio. He couldn’t remember her name, but laughed at her response to an Australian ‘dawn chorus’.

Apparently, at home,  she was usually woken to the gentle sing-song voices of sweet little birds bopping about outside her window. These birds, she said, had such delicate songs that she woke to greet the day with a spring in her step and feeling happy to be alive.

On the morning of her interview she had been woken instead by something that chose to sit outside her window yelling ‘RAWK!! RAWK!! RAWK!!’ to greet the dawn.

She thought something had come to kill and eat her.

A Sulphur Crested Cockatoo twisting around for a better look at me so it can take my number.

It was probably just a cockatoo.

OK, so they aren’t dinosaurs really, but there is something about a parrot that reminds you that birds are descended from the dinosaurs. At least, I think the link is far more apparent than it would be should you be looking at say, a robin redbreast or a hummingbird. It’s the way they look at you. A parrot will size you up. You can see it making mental calculations. Deciding if it could bring you down first.

The sound they make certainly adds to the effect.

Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) ready for another argument

Gang Gangs sound like a cross between a creaky door and someone twisting an inflated balloon, Galahs sound a bit like someone trying to wipe a difficult mark of a pane of glass, Rainbow Lorrikeets sound every bit as argumentative and bossy as they look in their photo and I’m not even going to try and describe the sound that a juvenile Little Corella makes when it’s parents are trying to hint it’s time  for her/him to get a flat of their own. Trust me, it’s awful!

Galahs (Cacatua roseicapilla) are probably the most common parrot in my area.

At least the Rosella family have sweeter voices. The Crimson Rosella will let out a chiming ‘bink-ee-tink’ from time to time and the Eastern Rosella has a similarly sweet and chiming song.

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) enjoying sunflower seeds. I'm kicking myself for forgetting to plant some more this year!

If you haven’t already had a look, check out the post on Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos over at Bush Bernie’s Garden Blog. She’s really captured the personality of this very intelligent and down right funny bird!


Comments on: "Land of the Flying Dinosaurs" (20)

  1. These are utterly gorgeous birds! You’re right of course about the way birds remind us of their relationship to dinosaurs. Their legs and those eyes especially. We have crows and ravens that come to our feeders (perfectly welcome, as there are only a couple, and they chase the starlings away) and they’re very intelligent; fascinating to watch them.

    • Hi Jodi, Ravens and crows do have that same almost prehistoric impact don’t they?
      We have Australian Ravens visiting the garden too. I must find a photo I’ve got somewhere of a young raven having a rest in our butterfly bush next to the back door. He might have been young, but I still wasn’t going to mess with him and that beak!

  2. That will get you out of bed, mighty quick!

  3. We don’t have wild parrots here, but there are some escapees that manage to survive in our climate over winter. My first apartment, there was an escaped yellow headed amazon that apparently roosted in the tree in behind us. The first morning I woke up in that apartment, it was to screeching from the bird perched on our window sill!!! Apparently she’d fly to my neighbors porch every morning, where my neighbor would feed her. Every morning thereafter, I never needed an alarm clock!

    Your dinosaur cousins are beautiful. The Galah is pretty, but the Crimson Rosella is absolutely stunning.

    • Hi CV, at least we expect to hear the screetching of parrots – that first morning being woken by the yellow headed amazon parrot must have you out of bed quickly 😀
      The Crimson Rosella is a beauty isn’t it? The rosellas are my favourite parrots and the crimson rosella still looks beautiful to my eyes no matter how many times I see it!

  4. Wow! The bird pics are wonderful. jim

  5. Well, their calls may not be pretty, but their plumage is outstanding. We have nothing this bright in the landscape. All of the cockatoos and parrots I’ve ever seen were in a pet store, where their loud and boisterous personalities could be part of the act. My mother has pet budgies who drive my sister so crazy with their calls that they are sent to a closed room during family get-togethers. I can’t imagine waking up to that prehistoric-sounding racket coming from outside! But I envy you seeing this loveliness out your kitchen window, Heidi. 🙂

    • Loved the story of your sister and the budgies Meredith! But don’t ever take her to inland Australia or she may have to contend with whole flocks of them! Sometimes I wish I could put the parrots in another room and close the door – especially at dawn at fledging time! No, I joke about the noise, but I wouldn’t be without them!

  6. Heidi, Your description of these birds’ calls made me remember the first summer I was living in my little house in the woods. One night, when I was sleeping with all the windows open, I suddenly heard all this horrible screeching coming from the woods behind my house; it sounded as though someone was being murdered. I didn’t know what to do: Should I go out and investigate? Call the local sheriff? Fortunately, before I could make an utter fool of myself, I realized that these were baby screech owls earning their name while their parents were out hunting.

    • What a great story Jean – It must have made your blood run cold for a moment there! I would love to have an owl roosting near by, but all in all I think I’d prefer one that gave a gentle ‘hoot’ rather than a blood curdling screetch!

  7. I may not have a cockatoo to screech me awake in the morning, but I do have the blue jays and the pilated woodpecker that take turns outside my window – believe me, they are not that pleasant to hear at 7am!

    Love your pictures. I have always thought parrots to be highly intelligent. My uncle raised many kinds of parrots and you could definitely tell that each bird had it’s own personality. Some would talk – and a couple of the talkers liked to sit and argue with each other for hours! And if you had food, they would compete talk to get it by trying butter you up or explain why they deserved it more. Fascinating animals.

    • Hello Sylvana! I guess the visiting comedian lives in a part of the U.S. where the birds are a bit more subdued than they are in your locale 😀 I love your description of the parrots going into ‘competition talking’ to try to get you to give them some food. So like a parrot!

  8. I never thought a parrot might like to eat me, but now that you mention it…However, they are gorgeous birds. Thanks for a fun post!

  9. One of the things that I find fascinating about Australia is that the birds that we only see in certain pet stores are flying about in the wild where you live. It is so interesting to see such colorful birds flying in the wild in your pictures.

  10. In turn I am fascinated when I see pictures of squirrels, Opossums and humming birds (and even javelinas!) Noelle – only we don’t even get to see those in pet shop windows!
    I do appreciate the beauty of the parrots, even those that are quite common (and not all I mention are, a visit from a Gang Gang is a rare autumn treat in my area) and love to see them visiting my garden 🙂

  11. Great blog GG … and great descriptions of the various calls of these beauties. I have to agree… the song of the rosellas definitely tops those parrot squawks and screeches!!

    Thanks for adding the link … very kind of you.

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