After sharing our the progress of our resident Crested Pigeon family, who are currently taking daily excursions as they fly off each morning with a parent to learn how to forage, it was an interesting and timely discovery on our walk in the National Park last week to come upon the resident flock of Topknot Pigeons. While this most extraordinary looking bird is not a pigeon with a crest, it has a very unusual hairdo or head plumage, which actually looks like braiding or dreadlock hair, which some bright spark in the past thought looked like a knot, so it got its common name Topknot.
Unfortunately, several overseas websites, which I will not name, from which many draw their information from when they are too busy to properly research for themselves, or are unaware of the true Topknot Pigeon, also give the Crested Pigeon the name Topknot, which is incorrect. This has come about because people who have little knowledge of our birds, have continued to wrongly identify the bird, and so the error becomes acceptable over time because it was read on the internet. I don’t know how many times my wife and I have corrected our own Aussie friends and visitors, to their surprise, over wrongly naming the Crested Pigeon as a Topknot, as the Crest is just not a knot. I deal with a similar issue, using the Tawny Frogmouth, how many miss identify it as an Owl, in the Second Edition of my recent book release What Birds Teach Us.
This is a frugivorous pigeon, which feeds on the variety of native fruits of our rainforests, mainly figs. They are strictly a flock bird and extremely fearful of humans, and will lift as a flock at the slightest provocation. They are often seen feeding beneath the upper canopy on the very tall rainforest trees, which makes them a challenge to photograph, except when the sun illuminates them. Winter is a good time to catch them in the light, as they warm in the winter sun, as they are doing above.
Australia has two species of pigeon with head crests, the Crested Pigeon, which I shared in my previous post and is commonly found all over Australia on both coast and inland desert, and the desert dwelling Spinifex Pigeon, which gets its name from the grasses it hides and nests in, which grow in the desert areas.The Spinifex Pigeon has three distinct subspecies of which I feature below the white-bellied subspecies found in the far north west of the continent. These were photographed years ago in the Bungle Bungle NP. Here is a comparison of our two crested pigeons.
Note the size of the crest on this bird as it drinks at a spring in the desert. A variety of Finches can also be seen drinking. You will notice how the crest on this bird’s head looks like the top of the Spinifex grass it lives in, yet another provision of Intelligent Design, aiding their ability to hide.
I had to get a bird out of the sun on a fruiting native palm to see its full colour. Notice most of the fruit has already been eaten. Most of the passerine rainforest birds are basically fruvivorous. These include Fruit-doves, Doves, Pigeons and Bowerbirds (which include Catbirds). Sadly my flight shots were not good, but you can get an idea from this one.
After recent heavy rain again, which in the last two months has taken our huge Sydney dam from 40% full (and water restrictions) to now overflowing, all the creeks and waterfalls could be heard noisily making their way down to the Hacking River, which had also recently flooded over the road into the park. The sound of early spring were in the air as wild flowers bloomed and birds began pairing off and pursuing courtship rituals.
The New Holland Honeyeater, Lewins Honeyeater and Eastern Spinebill are enjoying the new blooms of the flowering eucalypt in our early Spring, as also is the White-cheeked Honeyeater for a short time.
A pair of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike glided over me several times to check me out. There glide was similar to that of a Dusky Woodswallow, at first I thought, but they were larger, and when they landed it was obvious what they were.
The tops of high dead trees are excellent surveillance points for many birds, particularly raptors, which love a 360° view, and with their extremely keen eyesight can see small rodents quite well from up there. This is the best viewing tree in the reserve and always one of the first spots for birders to check, as there is always something in it. This Australian Raven was calling from the top of this tree but no one responded. He eventually gave up calling and went to ground level and just stood for some time. The Australian Raven is our most intelligent bird, on par with our Magpie, often displaying very innovative ways of finding food. Notice the beard-like protuberance under its chin, called hackles.
Like many birds coming into the early Spring, many are already in search of mates, which may be what the Raven is looking for and also this lovely female Golden Whistler who was continually calling to a male nearby. She tried hiding from me, but to no avail.
Watch as she puts out her location call for a response.
Another female further on had an insect which it appeared to wondering what to do with.
Of course there is always a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo not far away making a raucous racket, but not this lone individual. Notice the roughed up plumage surrounding its large beak. Cockatoos have movable feathers around their beak. When they are relaxed and feeling friendly, possibly trying to attract a mate, they may do this, as covering ones beak is a non threatening friendly stance, as against aggressively bearing it and opening and closing the beak angrily at your opponent. Cockies are known to be aggressive to one another, especially young males trying to prove themselves. This is another bird features in my book for this reason. Notice the feathers gradually retract in each photo as it becomes uncomfortable with my presence.
Here is an example of an aggressive stance by a Cockie defending its nest.
If this is your first visit to my blog and website, take a few minutes to explore my Home Page. You will find helpful birding tips and information on making birding a healthy recreational pursuit.
Know a young person in the family who is having a Birthday or maybe you’re looking for a Christmas present for them ? Check out my book “What Birds Teach Us”. It is an excellent gift introducing them to our birds. Click on the book cover below to find out more.
In a similar way to the Cockatoo we just observed, body language: facial expressions and how we hold ourselves, shout loudly to the astute and trained observer, without a spoken word. Body language often discloses far more than what the person speaking wants to voluntarily disclose. Pride, shame and fear of rejection can cause people to feel awkward, anxious and insecure causing them to mask their true feelings. For example, when you are talking with someone, and they suddenly portray the defensive stance, by folding their arms and looking serious and sullen, possibly starting to stare or look away not making eye contact. They may prefer not to continue the conversation, or attempt to aggressively justify the behaviour being discussed. Respectful and skillful questioning may bring to the surface the underlying issue, the source of their insecurity, which is usually a false belief about themselves or what they think others think about them, which they have been secretly struggling to deal with. False fears and false beliefs about self, if allowed to persist and grow, are a formula for depressive disorders due to the unrelenting emotional stress, which eventually results in burn out. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is helpful to replace the lie with the truth, they need to believe about themselves and others. We can help people to health, often by sharing our own experiences, but the most important thing for us all is to find true peace and contentment in self, knowing that we are accepted and loved dearly, and never have to prove ourselves to anyone, as each of us is a unique creation, fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139) by a loving Father God.
“Cast all your anxiety on him [God] because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7
Have a wonderful week, and stay safe, especially to our dear friends in forced lock down, our thoughts and prayers are with you.
W. A. Hewson (Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy).
‘To introduce people to our unique Australian birds,
So we can learn from them how to live a healthy and happy life.’
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.