Continuing with some of the birds we saw in our recent visit to Taronga Park Zoo, Sydney, we saw a lifer – The Double-eyed Fig Parrot. This was a bird we pursued when we were last in Far North Queensland, but never laid eyes on. It is a resident of New Guinea, but is also found in the forests coastal Far North Queensland. It is omnivorous enjoying nectar, insects, seeds, berries and of course, figs, which are numerous in that part of the country. The zoo has several which appear to be mainly female or immature. There are eight subspecies. The double-eye name comes from New Guinea, where when the bird was first named, the very large nostrils on the top of its beak near its lores, appeared to resemble a second set of eyes, but of course this was not true, but the name stuck.
Another bird we saw, which we did see when last in Far North Queensland, in the wild, was the Crimson Finch. It is also found in New Guinea. Males are almost entirely crimson and the females mostly on the face, both with white dots on body. There are three races, and the one we saw in the Zoo was the rarer white belly race, evangelinae. It is found at the very top of Cape York.
The race we saw in the wild several years ago was Phaeton at the TYTO Wetlands in Ingham, QUE. Notice these are non banded wild birds.
Another bird found in the rainforests along the east coast of Australia’s mainland is the Noisy Pitta. This bird is found in southern New Guinea and found in small patches all the way down to just past Sydney. We have not seen it in our local rainforest, but have seen them in the Port Macquarie Sea Acres Rainforest centre, where my books are also sold.
These birds hop quickly about in the undercover of the forest foraging for worms and other insects in the leaf mold. Though they are noisy, most of the time I have seen them they have been fairly quiet.
Juveniles have much less red on their under tail and no black or very little on their bellies. Though these birds are not threatened in the far north coast they are becoming so around the populated areas of Newcastle and Sydney, due to loss of habitat and ferule animals. These birds only fly when they need to migrate or escape danger, spending most of their time foraging on the ground.
One of my favorite birds, I have spend many fruitless hours stalking in my early birding days is the Eastern Whipbird. You just have to know where you will see them and when, which is helped by their very loud whip-like call which rings through the forest being amplified on the eucalypt leaves. I watched the one at the zoo, it was a young adult, and spent its time earnestly foraging for worms and grubs. They similar to the Pitta, run along the forest floor turning over leaves and sticks, and poking their beaks into tree crevices as well as peeling off bark to find food underneath. However, these birds, aided by their long tail are able to move extremely fast almost running in the air with head down in an almost flat appearance of their body. They are one of the fastest moving birds I have seen, which can be a challenge to photograph if they see you. Here is what we saw on the day…
They have a crest on their head, and similar to Cockatoos, they raise when aroused or calling, but most of the time it is not apparent. These birds are only found on the east coast of Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
The best footage of this bird calling is in the promo video for my first book What Birds Teach Us, which was filmed in the Queensland rainforest. Remember that the female responds to the male’s whip immediately following with a quick “tse tse”.
More about this interesting bird can be found in my book:
In the sound file below notice in the male’s call to the female that she only answers every second call. She probably thinks he is a bit bossy and being a little anxious about her whereabouts, or she is too busy to answer.
Last of all for this week another bird found in Queensland, western NSW, north & west WA, SA/Victoria border (smallest flocks) and central NT is the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo of which there are 6 races (sub species). I featured the NSW race graptogyne, and here is the Queensland race banksii. Notice the males have all bright red tails and female with striped orange tails and white spotted head and necks.
Have a most enjoyable week. The weather has been bitterly cold here as the first days of winter kick in, and snow in places where it seldom falls. Birding remains a challenge as tracks continue to dry out and many birds have fled the cold and wet, at our poorest birding months of the year. Stay warm and safe as Covid in its now several variants, rampantly stalks, along with influenza, throughout our city.
We identify birds by their plumage, shape, size of their bodies and beak. These aid visual identity, however for birders, often the main characteristic that identifies and draws attention to the bird is their audio identity, i.e. the unique call the bird makes. This can also at times indicate the state of mind or action the bird is pursuing. The development of acute hearing and recognition of bird calls is of great assistance to those seeking out birds. In a similar manner it is easy for us to think that when we speak to one another, that by saying what we want to say, we have said it and so we have successfully communicated to the hearer what we are conveying. However, there is another dimension which is acutely more importantly – felt rather than telt, which is that of the manner and attitude that is put behind the words and the expression of them. We can at times say what we mean, but miss the mark in communicating it because the way we have said it side tracks the issue to become the subject of the response. As Maya Angelou is rightly quoted saying: people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. This principle applies in the positive also. I find when I engage with people, especially clients, it is the very tone and inflections of the first words of greeting, and always including their name, which prepares the mode and manner of the the conversation which follows to be warm. cheerful and positive. Our words are powerful and with the same mouth we can bless or curse, which can a profound long term effect on the emotional, spiritual and physical health of their hearer, without us even being aware. As the Good Book rightly says: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18:21 (NIV).
Jesus himself said: “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words, you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:37 That is why it is important to keep short accounts when we have offended others, either by our words or our attitude, to apologize and ask their forgiveness earlier rather than later, and lovingly reassure them with healing words of compassion and restoration, so they do not continue to suffer, rebuilding trust in the relationship.