Following on from our study of local Sydney birds, this week we focus again on our backyard, where my wife and I, during our coffee and lunch breaks, frequently sit under the large old Endeavour Bottlebrush tree in the centre of our courtyard, from which you have seen photos of Rainbow Lorikeet and Noisy Miner feeding , when the tree is flowering, which is most of the year.
It became apparent to my wife in the last few weeks, that there was an active nest well hidden deep within the tree, as we frequently heard the sound of the Crested Pigeon, the most numerous of our native pigeons, and a member of the Bronzewing family, as you will see from iridescent markings on its primary feathers. It is now found all over Australia, and has also adapted to become a city dweller over recent years. This is what it sounds like:
This above photo is significant to my wife and I, as it was the first bird we saw together on our first time away together watching the sunset at Uluru in the red centre of Australia. It had learnt to steal from our dried fruit snacks each time we put them down. It was the next day that we discovered we were both birders, when I saw her get excited, like a little girl, when she saw a bird not common to us and named it.
We have a resident pair which own our backyard when no human or bird are present. What better place to nest then where you call home. Similar to the speculum on ducks, the Bronzewing plumage changes colour as the sunlight refracts at different angles in the feathers.
The discovery of the nest inspired this post:
Learning to Do Family from the Crested Pigeon
1. Choosing a faithful partner:
The most important first step is choosing a faithful partner. Those who have purchased my book “What Birds Teach Us” will know that I use the Rainbow Lorikeet to depict a faithful lifelong partner, highlighting the obvious advantages. One of the interesting facts raised in my recent YouTube release on my aussiebirder channel in: “Why do birds have several changes of plumage throughout their lifetime?” is that birds which look identical in plumage are often the species that pair for life, and do not require breeding plumage or bright male plumage to attract a mate, more important qualities are sought after, such as affection and the ability to provide and care, similar to us. The Crested Pigeon male and female likewise are similar, and monogamous.
2. Choosing a suitable nesting sight and home to bring up the youngsters:
Location, Location, Location ! is why young Sydney couples pay over 1 million dollars run down house needing much work built in the 19th Century in central Sydney, as my wife’s daughter and son-in-law did. So it is with birds. The four basic rules for a nest that determine location are:
a) Must be in a safe position (good neighbourhood): As we saw above, the nest is deep within the tree and well camouflaged. As longtime resident birds to our yard (over 40 generations), they had the wisdom to nest during the Winter months (as many Australian birds can and do, such as the Lyrebird nesting at present). This the only suitable tree for them is having a short two month rest from flowing, which means the normal busy time where many birds visit and become aggressive after nectar is not on. The tree stands quiet, and the miners are not interested, but only in the next important concern.
b) Must have fresh water nearby (hot and cold running water): Birds usually nest close to a fresh water supply, as they need to drink and be able to carry water in their beaks to their nestlings in the early stages. If you want to locate nests, look along rivers, swamps and lakes. This has been provided by me, daily, just beneath their nest.
c) Must have a constant food source nearby (walk to shops): The Crested Pigeon mainly feeds on seeds, grains and insects, keeping our courtyard free of crumbs, and eating the seed from any weeds, which are found in the nearby yards and in the park. My next door neighbour has chooks so the pigeon can raid any grain from them.
d) Must have a good aspect (north-south aspect): How we found that the resident couple have had babies was when we first viewed them in the last week in Winter sunlight towards the north, which is the most desirable aspect for building in Australia, as the Winter sun crosses the northern side of the sky. So we found both the juvenile pigeons preening and warming in the sun each morning on the northern side, less than a foot away from the nest. Sadly, during last weeks storms one of the three nestlings died.
The plumage in the juvenile bird, as explained in my YouTube video, is more earthy dull coloured, for protection from predators, the beak is darker and flesh coloured, the eye ring not established and the crest is not properly formed or dark tipped. Compare the above features, as the adult grooms and preens one of the youngsters in the sun. Aspect includes an easy and safe escape from the tree taking them away from our house which is south of the tree.
3. Being devoted to caring for, feeding and instructing the new family members (modelling love):
In the act of preening being modeled to the youngster above, the youngster is learning how it is done. This is how it is with our children, we teach by example, more so than by word. It is felt rather than telt, as the old English saying goes. Birds learn most of their behaviour in the juvenile stage, much the same as humans. The more intelligent the bird species, the more that has to be taught and caught, as with the Australian Magpie, which is why birds raised in captivity from a young age can not survive in the wild, but are dependent on human generosity, because that is all they have been taught. You may recall a recent post on a birding date to Lake Wallace where we saw a pair of immature Magpies being trained to feed from humans, from my wife’s Anzac bickies.
This what should be happening:
One of the other ways Pigeons in particular protect their family and flock is in the peculiar noise they generate when they fly, especially when they take off. The level of sound (the pitch) warns other pigeons of impending danger and to use caution. Watch and listen as this adult responds to seeing me at the door.
Birds communicate using their own species language and local or flock dialect, similar to us humans. What sounds like just hooting sounds of the pigeon to us, is actually language. In some languages such as Chinese (Mandarin), one word can have two or more meanings depending on how long or inflected the word is pronounced. This is a tonal language, similar to birds. Listen to this Chinese tongue twister. In a similar way our original inhabitants repeat the same word to signify many or large or greatness about an object, as I have shared in previous posts.
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An economical way of using fewer sounds, but very exacting, as you could insult your mother by calling her a horse. Listen carefully to the hoot (language) of the adult Crested Pigeon as she instructs her babies near the nest, and you will hear a short higher response from the juvenile. Birds raised in captivity also lack their native language, and associated social skills which like food finding skills, are also learnt behaviours. Our ears are not as acutely tuned to sound as birds are. They hear, see, act and move faster than we can, to their advantage and survival.
We patiently await the next stage, where these birds start to fly and forage in our courtyard as they are instructed by example from their parent. It appears that one parent goes to work or shopping while the other stays with the kids and visa versa. A great model for a happy family. These pigeons are peaceful birds, never aggressive, always considerate of other birds, setting a good example to their children.
If this is your first visit to my blog and website, check out my birding info pages from the above menu or HomePage. There is much information on learning to become an experienced birder. There is also information on life principles we can learn from the birds in my Birder Sanctuary. Looking for the perfect Birthday or Christmas gift ? One which will increase their interest in our beautiful Australian birds ? Look no further click here.
We glean that birds are intelligent creatures, far more so than we have previously given them credit. They do family well. They know how to keep the nest clean from poo, as you will also see on my Home Page and YouTube channel. The dedication and faithful commitment to each other and the family is impressive and an example to us all. They model this throughout the stages of the young bird’s life, as they will learn to do also and eventually model.
The love and commitment we show to the one’s we love, including any dysfunctional selfish or unkind behaviour we have not discarded, is what we model, often unwittingly, as it is often unwittingly adopted by the child as normal behaviour. Acceptance,Trust, Respect, Forgiveness, Kindness, Faithfulness and Honour are important aspects of a loving relationship. Watching birds do life, often reminds me to check myself and my behaviour. Monday was the 3rd of the month. My wife and I have made it a practice in our marriage to celebrate the marriage date in each month, so that we stop and recount our blessings and also take stock by asking each other: How are we going ? Is there anything I/we can do better ?
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Eph 4:31,32
Have a wonderful week and stay safe, as best you can. Praying peace, provision and safety to you.
W. A. Hewson (Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy).
‘To encourage people to make good life choices,
using birds to teach important life skills.’
NOTE: All photos, videos and music used on this website are photographed, composed, performed by the site owner and remains his copyrighted property, unless otherwise stated. The use of any material that is not original material of the site owner is duly acknowledged as such. © W. A. Hewson 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020.