yellow tailed blacks

A couple of weeks ago I noticed some black cockatoos flying north west in the clear evening sky over Summer Hill. In contrast to the smaller, more raucous and far commoner white sulphur-crested cockatoos, the blacks have a remote and leisurely presence, perfectly expressed in their long loping wing beats and slow alterations of flight trajectory. They seem contemplative birds, with all the time in the world to do what they do, go where they go. I was quite surprised to see these ones in an urban area and wondered where they might be grazing. The three red-tailed blacks who live at Pearl Beach fed in the sheoak trees and, like these ones at Summer Hill, used to flap slowly to their roosts at the crespuscular hour. It was beautiful to spend time beneath one of the sheoaks where they ruminated over the hard cones ... gentle susurrus of beak on wood and a shower of shaved fragments falling softly onto the needle carpet under the tree. And then the loud feathery kerfuffle as one moved to another branch. Anyway, today as I was going into the pool for a swim I heard bird calls from the trees around Leichhardt Oval, a strange, reedy, keee-oww sound, one I had not come across before. I immediately thought bats, but then cancelled that option - bats? in trees? at 10.30 am? No way. Just then about half a dozen black cockatoos flew out of the tree tops, making that call to each other. They were not red-tailed blacks, which anyway have a different, more plaintive, creakier cry, but seemed to have white bars under their tails. However, on consulting the web, I learned that the white-tailed black is found only in south western Australia, and that these ones must have been yellow-tailed blacks. It's odd though - a feature of the yellow-tailed black is a prominent cheek spot, also yellow, and I did not notice that on any of these birds. They could have been young males, which have a smaller spot and lighter barred tails ... they are a bird which has adapted well to exotic plantings, being particularly fond of pine cones. In the Blue Mountains they are accused of spreading pinus radiata because of their habit of carrying half mumbled cones away from the tree then letting them fall to seed elsewhere. Well, what price purity? These ones circled above the pool for a couple of minutes, calling as they organised themselves into a flotilla, then flew away north across the Parramatta River. I went in to do my laps with their cry lingering in my ear, their slow, loping flight marking the rhythm of my strokes.


mark young said...

Gentle susurrus? I remember the black cockatoos in the Blue Mountains breaking branches with their beaks! (Jesus, that's alliterative!)

mark young said...

or should that be bejesus?