No rustling leaves, human, camera flashlights, morning nor afternoon traffic could wake this pair of snoozing frogmouths. The owls, a male and a female were in our garden since this morning.
I took some morning and afternoon shots of the two birds and only for a few seconds this morning did their eyelids open. The female was more interested in me than the male. No doubt the pair have had a busy night last night and another ahead. The Tawny frogmouth as they are called, have an amazing way to camouflage themselves during the day. The owls inhabit open forests and woodlands of eucalypts and acacias throughout Australia and they live in pairs.
The Tawny frogmouth owls frequent our garden especially in winter.
Kaz, our pet lorikeet is a father, and he has been for about a month. I only just found out a week ago. I guess I am a grandmother again, having already had several ducklings being born to ducks my sons and I have raised in Bellbowrie, Queensland.
Weeks before the baby was born, Kaz the lorikeet came for chats in the Umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla) while I was hanging the washing. He normally visited us on the verandah where he grew up, at the front of the house. I thought at the clothesline was an odd place for him to be. A three metre drop just under where he sat was a typical place for snakes, and even the snake catcher reminded me a few times. “Dry leaves under shady dry quiet place with both sunny and dark nooks – a snake haven” he said with a grin. I suppose one day, I would cut everything down, but I didn’t have the heart to damage the place. Both the pythons and brown snakes were removed by snake catchers from this spot and taken to the park. Currently, a baby green tree snake lives there – he is only 50cm long and suns itself on the back verandah often.
Near the umbrella tree where rainbow lorikeets gathered, Kaz would fly low onto the mango tree branches and tell me long-winded tales while I hung the washing or tended to my garden. I wished I understood him. The changes in the pitch and his excitement showed there was some important things happening in his life, but all I could do was respond in whistles, PNG pidgin and make my own sounds so he knew I was listening. He always responded cheerfully. Often he would hop onto the clothesline for a few minutes before he flew away.
One day, two weeks ago I heard a baby bird cry and a soothing motherly response just above the clothes line. I heard these cries start a month ago. It was louder and closer. It sounded like a baby parrot in the umbrella tree, but I could not see it. The giant leaves hid the birds. I also did not know what type of parrot it was, but I suspected a rainbow lorikeet because these birds loved the spiky flower of the umbrella tree which turns into fruit.
A week went by and I noticed my feathered son Kaz coming out of the same tree. He usually slept in the palm and the gum trees in front of the house. At the house, he came alone and stayed longer than five minutes which was his usual visiting time. He also chased baby parrot Boz out of its cage and ate the crumbs. Katz often stayed in the cage for a while longer. He was unaccompanied. His female partner was nowhere to be seen. Since he had left home, Kaz always flew with her. I wondered if she ditched him which wouldn’t have surprised me because Kaz could get rowdy and demanding at times. Last week, he flew down to me when I arrived home and flew straight back into the umbrella tree and made so much noise. He called loudly and whistled. I followed him and could hear the baby bird as well.
Under the clothesline I listened. I saw Kaz on the branch, his partner and a baby bird. I was so surprised, but my thoughts went back to how little he was and how he just fitted in my hand when he first came to us. Kaz could not stop talking and shouting. I stared at him realising I had become a grandmother. That was what all the clothesline storytelling was about a week ago. At that moment, my excitement and sense of pride felt like I could easily fly up to the umbrella tree. I could not tell anyone about Kaz’s news as I was alone. I felt strangely moved and wanted to hug Kaz and tell him I was proud. But he is the wild thing he is supposed to be, and I just hope he can see how happy I am for him.
Over the week, I watched Kaz’s family and how attentive the parents were; keeping their little one safely in the large leaves of the umbrella tree. They protected the baby from crows, kookaburra and other large birds. Kaz visited the house daily to bring ‘take-aways’ of honey, bread, fruit and seeds back to the nest.
Today, almost a month after I heard that baby bird, a rare moment presented itself when the whole family flew to another umbrella tree 20 metres away. It happened while I was walking in the back. I quickly ran back into the house to fetch my camera. The lighting was terrible and the shots were fleeting, but I am happy to share some rare images of my feathered family. Life can give you joy in the most interesting ways.
Kookaburras are a type of kingfishers that live in Australia and PNG and they are very territorial. They are referred to as the laughing birds because of the way they sound, just like someone is dying laughing. They live in most treed parts of Australia.
The birds can grow between 30 and 40cm tall and eat mostly insects, worms, crustaceans, small snakes, frogs and other small birds. Australians sing songs about the Kookaburra’s laugh, but the truth is, that loud continuous sound they make, sometimes in a group, is a territorial call. The bird warns its family of birds about who is approaching their territory. I grew up with a song call, Kookaburra Sings on the Old Gum Tree. And all this time, before I knew, I thought they were singing to welcome me, but they were warning each other.
The birds can become tame around humans, like these two that have been living on our balcony since we moved to Bellbowrie five years ago. One in particular (pictured here) has recently started grabbing food off the plates or comes into the kitchen to help herself.
She also likes it when you hand feed her. I took these micro shots of the cheeky one. She was very patient and she did not fly off, so these are all her. Read more here.