Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Grumpy wall of fame

This dunny block, in Beaconsfield, Western Australia, once only had the cockatoos.

Not that I deserve it after such a long blogging hiatus, but now the wall also portrays me.

(It's not really me).


You in my world now, Jane Davenport


Friday, March 14, 2008


Though they perch far apart on the avian family tree, different groups of birds that can learn songs use similar brain structures to pitch their tunes.

In all three groups of birds that are able to learn a tune -- parrots, songbirds and hummingbirds -- the brain structures for singing and learning to sing are embedded in areas that control movement, neurobiologists at Duke University in North Carolina this week said in a release.

The findings may also help solve the riddle of why humans (especially Italians) talk with our hands and voice, but chimps (except in the Planet of the Apes) can talk only with their hands.

"In its most specialised way, spoken language is the ability to control the learned movements of our larynx," neorobiologist Erich Jarvis said. "It's possible that human language pathways have also evolved in ways similar to these birds.

"Perhaps the evolution of vocal learning brain areas for birds and humans exploited a universal motor system that predates the split from the common ancestor of birds and mammals."

Professor Jarvis and his colleagues examined bird species with vocal learning skills and some without: garden warblers, zebra finches, budgerigars (an exceedingly cute species of parrot), Anna's hummingbirds and ring doves. The coneheads observed and manipulated bird behavior, then recorded which genes were active in the birds' brains when the birds moved and sang in certain ways.

While all birds vocalize, for most of them these sounds are genetically hardwired. Only parrots, songbirds and hummingbirds have the ability to learn songs. This type of vocal learning is similar to the way humans learn to speak, Professor Jarvis said.

Friday, March 07, 2008


This is about as close as I've been to a parrot in a few weeks.

I did, however, see two particularly cute rainbow lorikeets canoodling in a date palm, next to Novak's pub, in Northbridge, this morning. They were very chipper, having been deloused by a generous storm cloud.

Several passers by stopped to spy the colourful couple. So parrot appreciation could be on the up in Perth. Let's hope so.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. The matter in hand is a mic in a mic stand and Definition of Sound as the main brand.

No, hang on, back to the real matter at hand. The pic' above.

Yes, for the past few weeks a veritable cornucopia of parrots on South Street, Beaconsfield, has been stopping off at Chez Un tournesol for breakfast.

I took this snap Monday morning, and the silly things flew up onto a power line when I got too close.

They are wild, after all.

Wild, but mild.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Keitha Willison! He'sa my husband!!

Here's a little somethin' that was emailed to me at work yesterday:

A woman went to a pet shop and spotted a big, beautiful parrot.

There was a sign on the cage that said $15.

"Why so little," she asked the pet store owner.

The owner looked at the woman and admitted: "Look, I should tell you first that this bird used to live in a house of ill-repute and sometimes it says some pretty vulgar stuff."

The woman thought about this, but decided she had to have the parrot anyway.

She took it home, hung its cage up in her living room, and waited for it to say something.

The bird looked around the room, then at her, and said: "New house, new madam."

The woman was shocked at the implication, but then thought: "That's really not so bad."

When her twin teenage daughters returned from school, the parrot rolled its beady eyes and said: "New house, new madam, new girls."

The girls and their mother were somewhat offended, but started to laugh about the situation, considering where the parrot had been raised.

Moments later, the woman's husband, Keith, came home from work.

The bird eyeballed him and said: "Hi, Keith!"

Monday, February 25, 2008


Snapped today in the courtyard of a magnificent art deco house opposite Perth's Hyde Park was this Sulphur-crested cocky.

He seemed to be getting along well with the two resident tortoiseshell cats.

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Oh, let's just blame the endangered parrot!

The critically endangered Orange Bellied parrot (pictured) is an "environmental obstacle" to a desalination plant planned for the parrot's habitat in Victoria, Massie Santos Ballon yesterday proclaimed on a so-called "Cleantech" website.

There's less than 200 orange belliers left in the wild, though a breeding and release program is showing promise. Habitat disruption is the main reason for the parrot's demise.

"The desalination plant also threatens other colorfully named species such as the glossy grass skink, the southern brown bandicoot and the growling grass frog, but the bird is really the center of all the attention," Ballon trivialises.

Ballon is a "columnist" from Manila, the Blade Runner-style capital of the Philippines, where sewer rats and junkyard dogs pass for biodiversity.

"The question is, will [the Orange Bellied parrot] cost Aussies their drinking water?" Ballon goes on to patronise.

As this blog sees it, the real question is: "Why should an environmentally-dubious desalination plant fly in the face of the well-established precautionary principle, to the detriment of several threatened species, so Aussies can wind up living in a horrorshow cesspit like the city Ballon calls home?"


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Legal eagles for prized parrots

THE US secretary of the interior has been called on to protect, both at home and abroad, tropical parrots most prized by unscrupulous pet traders.

"Listing these birds under the US Endangered Species Act," director of Denver University's environmental law clinic Jay Tutchton said in a January 21 release, "will head off poachers and collectors, increase funding and attention for research and habitat protection, and draw scrutiny to projects proposed by US government and lending agencies worldwide."

Named in a petition drafted by the university's students are:
• Hyacinth, Blue-throated, Blue-headed, Green, Scarlet and Military macaws;
• Grey-cheeked parakeets; and
• Yellow-billed, Red-crowned, Thick-billed, and Crimson shining parrots.

Also nominated were Philippine, White, and Yellow-crested cockatoos (which resemble the Sulphur-crested ones we get in Australia).

Lee Hall, who's legal eagle for fur and feather activists Friends of Animals, was also concerned.

"The pet trade threatens the continued survival, as well as the freedom, of these birds – beings who must also cope on habitat desired by ranchers and energy developers," Hall said. "The US market for these birds must be closed."

Notwithstanding the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and similarly-minded US law, traders can obtain many of these birds with permits, the release warned. Trappers may set snares on perches, use ladders to raid nests, set the bases of trees afire to flush birds out, and shoot adult birds in the wing to allow capture.

Chicks are especially prized, the release continued. Collectors will even cut down trees to get to them – killing 60 per cent of the chicks as the trees fall, and depriving birds of future nesting sites. Most surviving birds die in transit between traders.

Said Kay Bond, the attorney supervising the law students drafting and preparing to litigate the petition: "We expect a positive initial finding on our petition within 90 days, and we hope the secretary will act before one or more of these communities of birds go [sic] extinct due to the pet trade."

Where the parrots live:
• Yellow-billed parrots in the wet limestone forests of Jamaica.
• Red-crowned parrots along the northeast Mexican coasts, a population in Veracruz having disappeared.
• Thick-billed parrots once lived in the southwestern US but are now seen only in Mexico.
• Military macaws in fragmented canyon and forest habitat from Mexico to Peru, having disappeared from Argentina.
• Blue-throated macaws in Bolivian palm groves
• Grey-cheeked parakeets in coastal areas along the border between Ecuador and Peru
• Hyacinth macaws (not to be confused with Jim Morrison's Hyacinth House) on the edges of Brazilian palm forests
• Blue-headed macaws in parts of Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia.
• Scarlet Macaws in pockets throughout Central and South America; only about every two years do they lay two to four eggs.
• Great green macaws, once widespread throughout Central and South America, are now only found in pockets of Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. Less than 2500 free-living Great Green macaws are left. In Costa Rica, only 25-35 pairs remain. In Ecuador, they number less than 100 individuals. They've been seen bagged for sale in Nicaraguan markets.
• Crimson shining parrots in forests and agricultural lands, as well as around human habitation on the islands of Fiji.
• Yellow-crested and White cockatoos live in Indonesia, where they are suffering the effects of the pet trade and habitat destruction.
• Philippine cockatoos are currently found on only a handful of islands within their historic range.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 08, 2008

Early Autumn, courtesy Corella

Proving that parrots love to go to town, this plane tree, on Perth's Esplanade, was jam-packed with creaking Western Corellas on Monday.

They're a bit hard to spot, so here's a zoom.

Harder to miss is their verdant trail of destruction.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

He's baaaack!

Same tree, on South Street, a week or so since I snapped the last lorrie, another was back to lap up the crimson nectar.

Same lori? Who knows?

I thought the gum tree was worth another airing though. Western Australia's gums, and wildflowers for that matter, are a wonder to behold.

Yep, it's a spectacular bloom that makes a rainbow lorrie fade into the background.

Poor lorrie.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Indian ringneck alert

This pestilent, introduced, Indian Ringneck has been caught in Fremantle.

Western Australia's agriculture and food department reminded Sandgropers not to allow birds to leave aviaries after the friendly former pet was found by a nursery man at Dawson's garden world in the light industrial area of O'Connor.

Department biosecurity officer Brett Scourse (pictured) said Dawson's staff reported the suspicious-looking bird, and helped by feeding it to keep it in the area until department staff could capture it.

The feathered subcontinental is rumoured to be a former shouldertop associate of Saddam Hussein.

"This is another reminder that Indian ringnecks are at great risk of establishing feral populations in Western Australia, if they are released or escape from aviaries," Mr Scourse said. "Escaped birds are regularly found in the wild, with reports over the past two years of birds in Belmont, Lake Monger, Hyde Park, Yangebup, Ocean Reef, St James, Stoneville, Mt Nasura, Morley, Calista, York, Cottesloe, Forrestdale and Mandurah.

"Indian Ringnecks are declared pests in Western Australia and all birds found in the wild are immediately removed," the biosecurer added. "Their pest status requires that they are kept under secure conditions indicated by a permit."

Mr Scourse said Indian ringnecks posed a significant threat to Western Australian agriculture and horticulture, with potential to damage cereal and oilseed crops, as well as stored grain [unlike our heavenly native parrots:-)].

"There are large numbers of the birds kept as pets and owners need to be vigilant and ensure they do not escape," he said. "They are required to be kept in a secure double-doored aviary at all times."

"It is also important for the public to remain vigilant and report any unusual sightings of birds in their area as soon as possible. "

The Indian ringneck is a long-tailed, grass-green parrot with a red beak, slightly smaller than a native 28 parrot. Male birds have a narrow black and pink ring around the neck, while females and immature birds sometimes have emerald rings.

Sometimes the birds may be blue, yellow and white in colour, from being bred in captivity.

Sightings of the Indian ringneck should be reported to the department on freecall 1800 084 881.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Galahs and the bees

There's a big old galah nest in this spotted gum (Eucalyptus maculata), outside the TAFE college in Oxford Street, Leederville.

Only problem is, it's a good home for bees too.

At the moment, though, galahs seem to be winning over bees, with a flock of about six of the so-called pink and greys hanging around the gumtree and nearby power poles on Saturday morning just passed.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Where's Lori?

The rainbow lorikeets are lovin' it around Fremantle and Perth at present.

Not only are the spotted gums (imported like the lories, and me, from Australia's east coast) in beige bloom, but some of our local gums like the one pictured are out as well.

... meaning the likes of this White Gum Valley lori, snapped on South Street on Friday morning, gets a good feed - and some camouflage to boot.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Light on his feet

Snapped on South Street, in Beaconsfield, on Thursday this winged white-gut looked somewhat bemused, if not downright baffled.

"Hang on a pine cone-pickin' minute, haven't I seen you somewhere before?"

"Aren't you that phantom parrot blogger?"

"Well, cop a squiz at this, Mr Happy Snapper!"

"Go on, take a picture, it lasts longer!!"

"I'm outta here. Catcha later, paparazzo!!!"


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Civil disobedience

Click on photo for best view of chicken-licken, stage left.

(snapped in Caesar Street, Beaconsfield, beside Bruce Lee Oval)