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