In my last post I highlighted the current contention between the resident Sulfur-crested Cockatoo and the visiting Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo in Cook Park, Botany Bay, Sydney, as they compete for the native pine and Banksia cones in the many trees in the park. You may have noticed unobtrusively in the background another kind of cockatoo known as the Little Corella, which resembles the Sulfur-crested, but is actually a very different bird.
My Bird of the Week – The Little Corella
The Little Corella is found throughout mainland Australia including parts of Tasmania. It is not present in the hot desert regions of Western Australia. It has four races present in four distinct localities. These birds spend most of the year inland and come to the coast in autumn and early winter to feed on the Banksia and native pine cones from the previous summer. Like other cockatoos, lorikeets and parrots, the Corella pair for life and appear to display more family and flock culture than the others. You will often see them in pairs and with their young in tow. They look similar to the Sulfur-crested Cockatoo, but lack the sulfur crest, having a white crest, a blue eye ring and pink lores (area between eyes and beak). There characteristic call is quite different from the screech of the Sulfur-cresteds, as you will notice in the following video.
Similar to other cockatoos they nest in tree hollows near water, and are influenced by dry periods, often driving them to the coast. I love it when I begin to hear their call as they fly by our house, I know winter is coming.
Above are some flight photos, they look so good against a blue autumn sky. In one photo you can catch a glimpse of the Sydney city skyline on the left hand side as they fly out over Botany Bay. Click on photo to enlarge it.
It is pure delight to watch as these birds care for one another in their close knit relationships. Preening each other and removing lice in places where one can not reach by one’s self. I love the way they look at each other with love in their eyes.
Above is a close knit family of Little Corella with juniors on the outer sides as the parents make a noise to send me away.
These birds love to play, frolic and fight with each other. You can see them fighting over branch position, or hanging upside down having fun or just mucking about generally in the flock, which generally end up in the same tree or trees nearby, as they move from place to place.
Above a few photos to highlight some of their peculiar features. One of the older birds looks like an old man with white hair and a large white mustache. Notice the white crest raised on the first few birds, this is not often seen unless the bird is disturbed or reacting to a threatening situation.
It was a wonderful experience to be in the midst of a flock of Little Corella as they responded to alarm. They acted like one huge bird moving together with immediate and single minded intent. One moment they are gathering all around me, the next they all evacuate the forest in one wave of around 60 to 100 birds. It was such a buzz to witness it and be standing there experiencing it. It was amazing, like they had all received a telepathic message at the same time to leave moving as one together, and unlike the Yellow-tails, no alarm call proceeded the move. This was their protective element – flock force with safety in numbers. Raptors and other threatening creatures would be confounded and bedazzled when confronted with so many birds, in such a loud, fast moving and swarming number, as they relocate to safety. To finish I had to include the following clip…
This whole experience highlighted to me the importance of working together to achieve a common goal, and the important contribution that each individual makes, towards empowering the flock. Democracy works from this principle. However, the importance of each individual is not to be lost amid the enormity of the flock. Each of us has been created for a loving, purposeful life and there will never be anyone the same as me or you ever. Each of us is unique and beautiful in the eyes of the awesome Father of Creation.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. “ – Matthew 10:29-31
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