Kookaburras are no laughing matter when it comes to what they are doing to Tasmania’s fragile environment. They might appear the lovable larrikins of the bush but they are a bird out of time and place in our state. The kookaburra does not belong here – it’s a creation of the whim, and may I say stupidity that abounded in the last century. Kookaburras are an introduced species, brought here from the mainland where they naturally belong at the time of federation in 1901. The … [Read more...] about Kookaburra ‘joke’ wearing thin
On The Wing
A column for all seasons
Everyone has a story about birds. They are all about us and are our contact point with nature. The birds I see are usually in an urban environment and so I concentrate on these in my writing. I don’t pretend to be an expert but birds of the city and suburb are also the ones that most people identify with, the species you do not need a compass and binoculars to seek out. A scarlet robin singing in a garden is just as exciting as a swift parrot in an ancient forest and is worth just as many words in my On the Wing writings.
“Why did the chicken cross the road?” goes the Tasmanian joke when drivers spot cockerels strutting at the side of the highway. The joke even featured in a Sunday Tasmanian headline once, when the newspaper carried a story about a notorious hotspot for unwanted cockerels, at the Kingston end of the Southern Outlet. The issue of the rogue cockerels is generally linked to a growing trend to self-sufficiency when people rearing chicks for egg production in backyards are faced … [Read more...] about Long journey for the humble junglefowl
Like the wavering, undulating flight of a forest raven over the Hobart suburbs, a talk I gave to a group of seniors recently wandered off course. “Encouraging Birds to Your Garden” was supposed to be about the importance of growing native plants in suburban and urban backyards but it deviated to the virtues of an introduced species – the humble apple tree. I soon found myself with ardent supporters at the Midcity School for Seniors, with the audience barracking for the … [Read more...] about Seniors talk flies off course
A short distance from the Club X adult shop and the red-light district on the fringes of St Kilda’s Acland Street, a sexual dynamic of a different kind was taking place. Among the gums and exotic vegetation in St Kilda’s Botanic Gardens a pair of grey butcherbirds were into a second round of mating ritual, after rearing a nest of young earlier in the breeding season. The sexual frolics of humans and birds in St Kilda tell a story of two worlds, at the same time separate and … [Read more...] about Sex in the suburbs
All summer long a grey fantail has sung a lusty, vibrant song from the upper branches of a dogwood tree. The male fantail has only broken off singing to go in search of flying insects, fluttering about the branches like a demented shuttlecock before returning to its favourite perch. The fantail is usually known for a sweet song, a descending melody that seems to drop like falling leaves from the canopy. The fantail in question not only sung this tune, along with the … [Read more...] about The mate who never came