Little Corella – with a big attitude

Little Corella coming in to land

Little Corella – Coming for a drink

 

Little Corella Face

Little Corella Face

 

They might look cute but these fellas have a big attitude. My friend was complaining recently about birds swooping at her outside her home and it turned out that they were Little Corellas. I think that they’re only likely to swoop at people when they are breeding though. When I was taking pictures of them at Lake Joondalup one tried to chase off a pigeon that was feeding too close. When the pigeon didn’t move, the corella grabbed it by the tail and screeched at it while dragging it along.

 

Little Corella

 

There are often a few mixed in with the Long-Billed Corellas at Joondalup and they tend to be quite aggressive to their Long-Billed cousins. They seem to be less friendly and confident so it’s harder to get close for a photo.

Little Corellas by the road

Little Corellas feeding by the road

 

A couple of months ago I was driving along when a massive flock of Little Corellas appeared ahead.  They landed on the verges, on the central reservation and in the trees. I pulled into a car park and managed to get some pictures on my mobile phone (apologies for the quality). Some were eating seeds from cones in the trees, the rest were grazing on the grass roots. When they fly over they make quite a racket, chattering and screeching so it would be hard not to notice them. They’re sometimes found on their own or in a pair, or sometimes seen in these huge flocks.  In fact,  sometimes they’re in flocks of over a thousand and are now considered by many to be a pest.  If you are a farmer and a thousand of these appear to feed on your crops it must be hard to see a cute side. I hope this flock sticks to the verges and parkland where we can enjoy them without them being a nuisance and hopefully I can get some photos of their chicks in a couple of months time.

 

Little Corellas

Little Corellas

Rainbow Lorikeet – A Beauty or a Beast

Lorikeet nest hole

Lorikeet Nest Hole

As you may have read in an earlier post, the rainbow lorikeet has become one of my favourite birds to see while I’m out and about. They’re bright, colourful, chattery and confident. So I was quite surprised to read an article “Palms Host Pesky Parrot” on one-perth.com.au, asking for help in controlling their numbers. And a little bit of Googling reveals quite a lot of negative press for them.

The lorikeets are native to Eastern Australia, and only established themselves in Western Australia through releases (accidental or otherwise) from collections and aviaries. They have since bred very successfully and become quite a problem. Firstly, they displace native birds by taking their food supply and their usual nest sites. They cause a huge noise disturbance when they are in large numbers – very unwelcome if they happen to be just outside your house. They cause crop damage especially, it seems, to the grapes in Western Australia’s vineyards. They may be beautiful birds to watch when there are 5 of them in a park, but if you can see your annual grape crop (and therefore your livelihood) being wiped out by hundreds of them, they may start to lose their attraction. They are also said to spread disease (although I couldn’t find the facts and figures to verify that) and pose a strike risk to planes at Perth Airport.

The government are asking landowners to try to control their numbers by removing one of their favourite nest sites – by removing the old, bottom leaves of palm trees. Over 34,000 lorikeets have been culled in the past 6 years, so reducing their breeding potential may control their numbers without so many having to be culled.

A similar thing happened in the South of England, where over 40,000 ring-necked parakeets are now thought to live. They also bred from escaped birds and their numbers increased rapidly (one roost is home to over 7,000 birds). They also love to eat the grape harvest, and have to be culled by farmers. It caused a huge amount of friction between those who love the birds and like to see them and those who regard them as a pest and who worry about the harm done to native species.

I like seeing squirrels in parks in England, but it’s terrible to realise just how quickly the introduced grey squirrel has completely wiped out the red squirrel from almost all of the UK. It is taking huge effort and resources to protect the remaining populations of red squirrels. The lorikeet might oust native Western Australian birds if left to breed unchecked.

So now I look at the rainbow lorikeet in a new light. I still love to see it, but I appreciate that it’s breeding needs to be checked, and I fully understand why it’s loathed by people whose livelihoods are put at risk. It’s still allowed to stay on my Top 10 list though, as it’s definitely native to Eastern parts of Australia.

 

 

Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeet – posing at last

Surely this has to be one of the most colourful birds in the world and it truly lives up to its name. I’m really lucky to have these living in the nearby parks. Seeing them makes me smile and I always stop to have a look when I pass them. They love to chatter to each other while they eat. The food trees also have a distinctive ‘ticking’ noise while they feed, as their beaks pick the seeds out of tiny cones.

Like many of the cockatoo/lorikeet/parakeet types of birds, they are quite confident so they will let me get reasonably close to them. Except when I’m carrying a camera. They must have an in built camera sensor. For months, whenever I didn’t have my camera with me, they would let me get really close to them. Whenever I took my camera along, they were nowhere to be seen.    Lorikeets in Kings Park

I seem to have got past that hurdle and now I have plenty of pictures. They mainly live on the East, South East and North coast of Australia, but there is an established population around Perth. They can be seen in many parks in and near Perth, but King’s Park has to be one of the best places in WA to see them. The tall, mature trees have holes in them suitable for nesting and there’s a year round food supply. There’s something very entertaining about watching a lorikeet head suddenly pop out of a hole 25 feet up a tree trunk.

The rainbow lorikeet would be a very strong contender for my favourite Aussie Bird so far.