Cockatoos, Christmas and Mount Taylor …..

Just before Christmas, we had an unexpected visitor. ..

A group of cockatoos were helping themselves to the flowers on our apricot tree, and when Paul chased them away he noticed that one of birds was walking, rather than flying away.

It seemed to be a young cockatoo, perhaps a male, with a very protective mother who walked along the path with him. (I wish I’d taken a photo of them)

 I hoped they would both fly away, and I returned to the house to get on with Christmas preparations.

Anxious relatives watching from the carport roof..

However, a few hours later, the cockatoo was still sitting under a tree in the garden. He has a mark on his head…..we wondered if he’d had a “crash landing” in the garden while the apricot raid was on..

...behind the cockatoo there are.. two metal statues of magpies

I decided to call WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue, & Education service.) and I had a chat to a very helpful person called Lyn. She asked if the cockatoo had a tail, (which he didn’t have, compared with the other cockatoos) and this indicated he was definitely a Juvenile.

This photo was taken some time ago, and gives an example of the wing-span and tail of a healthy youngster..

Lyn then gave me an interesting, and amusing insight into the life of a young cockatoo. During the mating season, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos nest high in the hollow of gum (Eucalyptus) trees. The parents share the incubation of two to four eggs and feed nestlings for about 6 -8 weeks. Cockatoos may have as many as four young cockatoos in the hollow for a long time.!

Lyn said, ‘‘as you can imagine they are quite stunned and very reliant on their parents when they leave the hollow!”

These two photos were taken in Rushcutters’s Bay in Sydney last spring

Lyn said WIRES members, understandably do not take young birds if they are being fed by their parents. When the parents stop feeding the juvenile cockatoos starts to become independent and usually have developed well enough to fly.

The young mother on the left, looking after the juvenile cockatoo

The young cockatoo, settled into one of our Japanese Maple trees. He pulled himself up by his beak and claws, looking a little stunned, but always with his mother close by.

The mother of the young Cockatoo feeding him.

Fortunately our cockatoo family were very quiet (which is VERY unusual). His mother was completely devoted to him, she arrived about dawn every morning, fed him and often spent time preening him, and then she flew off, and came back in the evening to feed him again.. Paul and I sometimes wondered if he was going to be bigger than his mother..

Meanwhile Christmas was just a few days away, and our daughter, son-in-law and our two grandchildren were arriving any minute. They live in the inner city of Melbourne, and so they greeted the idea of a young cockatoo in the tree, with great interest.

Christmas day was a happy family time, fortunately the young cockatoo and his energetic mother had moved to a densely covered Bottlebrush at the bottom of the garden, and we made sure they had peace and quiet there. Our granddaughter made the cockatoo a nest out of paper plates, and thoughtfully left it under the plum tree.

The parents continued to watch over their youngster, and his mother spent time gently spreading out his wings …very poignant to watch.

The cockatoo family gradually moved to another very quiet garden, and we are not sure exactly what has happened to him now, but I hope he is learning to fly..

Once Christmas was over, presents had been opened, visitors had come and gone, there were a couple more things to do. Paul wanted to harvest his abundant bed of carrots, and had two willing helpers. They loved it, nothing like getting your hands in soil!

Once the carrots were harvested and cleaned, we had one more box to tick….we don’t have many traditions in Canberra, but almost everyone enjoys the outdoors.

We have lived on the slopes of Mount Taylor for many years. Our tradition is that when we get together, we make a bit of a trek along the path to the middle section of Mount Taylor .

The following photos have been taken over the span of many years …

When our daughters were young we walked up the path to look at the view, to see if we could spot our house, and to look for the kangaroos.

Lake Tuggeranong and surrounding suburbs
the kangaroos relaxing on Mt Taylor..

Paul, our son-in-law Anthony, and our grandson and granddaughter walked half way up Mt Taylor. They didn’t see many kangaroos, but they loved the climb, especially our grandson who is three and half years old. He couldn’t wait to tell his Mum ..

“I went to the mountain: and I loved it!”

the path leading home ….
Guess what they saw while they climbed the mountain…a cockatoo looking ahead..

Happy New Year to everyone, and thank you for taking the time to read my blog post, during this busy time of the year.

In the words of David Attenborough:

It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement, the greatest source of visual beauty, the greatest source of intellectual interest..it is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living...

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

13 Replies to “Cockatoos, Christmas and Mount Taylor …..”

  1. A very happy New Year to you and yours. How I enjoyed the story about the cockatoos. The journey of fledglings is always very moving to me. They are so new, so inexperienced. We have fledgling come to our backyard and we always watch them with tenderness and affection.

    Also, I really liked your grandson’s pronouncement that he went to the mountain and loved it. A memory to be cherished.

    1. Yes, it was wonderful to see the love and care that the parents showed toward the cute little fellow….and yes, I thought exactly what you said about my grandson’s comment of the mountain…a memory to be cherished.
      Best wishes for the new year Laurie to you and your family.

  2. Lovely pictures of the cockatoos. I am very jealous of the good crop of carrots. We have a terrible time with carrot root fly and have stopped trying to grow them. I am glad that you had a good family Christmas.

    1. What a pity to have carrot root fly, Paul had heard of it and we hope we don’t get caught with that. Every season is a lottery ticket when growing vegetables.
      Yes, we had a lovely Christmas as the whole extended family were in Canberra this year.

  3. It sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas with family. Two little ones always make the holidays special. I love the story about your feathered friend. I hope he matured and is soaring around the area. Beautiful photos of your part of the country.

    1. Yes, so true Judy, little ones in the family make the smallest of things exciting! I hope our little Cockatoo is learning to fly, last we saw of him he was flapping his wings..I guess that is progress.

  4. Happy New Year Gerrie! I too love the cockatoo story. What a frightening and painful start to an independent life some birds and animals have. It was good to find out that the mother continued to care for her baby after he left the nest. I also enjoyed hearing about your grandson’s excitment at climbing a mountain – how lovely!
    What a treat to be able to harvest carrots at Christmas time!

    1. Thanks Clare, it is so true that young birds and animals often have a frightening and painful start to life, and this little cockatoo was very lucky to have such an attentive mother. My son-in-law, Anthony said how lucky we all were, especially the children, to see the fledgling cockatoo, and his caring mother feeding him every day.
      I’m glad you enjoyed hearing about my grandson’s comments, his little face lit up with excitement.
      PS Oh yes, we are so lucky to harvest carrots just before Christmas. Christmas day is often very hot in Canberra, so we always have plenty of tasty salads ready.

  5. Oh, how I love your mountains. Sounds like you had a lovely family christmas. Great carrot crop! Lovely reading about the young cockatoo and seeing the photos, I do hope he has learnt to fly now, he’s lucky to have such a protective mother.xxx

    1. Hi Dina, Happy New Year!
      I thought of you when I was writing this post, I’m sure you would know all about young birds. It is lovely to see this fledgling Cockatoo with his protective mother, but he is still not very confident….. I guess it will all work out in the end.
      I hope you had a lovely Christmas, I’ll pop over and read your recent blog posts. Hope all goes well with you and your family and pets.

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