The first time I saw one of these birds I was quite worried that it may have been attacked by a cat. I kept noticing the pink fleshy marks on its neck. It was in a bush and I tried to get a closer look but it kept hopping away from me. It didn’t seem too distressed though. About every 30 seconds he’d give out a single ‘pock’ noise. My husband found my concern quite amusing, and said he thought I might have seen a wattlebird. And he was right. A red wattlebird in fact. It looked like this.
Wattlebird Fedding in King's Park
Now you can see where he got his name – the red fleshy wattles on the sides of his neck. I became quite used to hearing him in the park each morning. Then the numbers started to rise, and rise, and rise. Now there are masses of them. It seems they are very common in southern Australia, and they tend to move in this direction in the Autumn. They are actually part of the honeyeater family. In fact, they are the biggest of the honeyeaters. They love to eat nectar, so anywhere with lots of flowering plants, especially banksias, will attract them.
Where better than Kings Park? So many varieties of plants flowering at whatever time of year you visit. It must be something of a banquet for them. So now I know. They like nectar, there are lots of them, they’re actually honeyeaters and they haven’t all been attacked by cats.
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.
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.