Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, May 11, 2007

Cockies love the Grubs in Kangaroo Apples

KangarooApple Shrub.
If that topic headline does not mean anything to you, have a look
at these photos.
I do not have a photo of a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo in action on a Kangaroo Apple shrub (Solanum aviculare), but I have known for a long time that they love to chew Kangaroo Apples "to bits" chasing after the grubs which eat out the pith in the centre of the stems of these plants.

Chewed branch
I published a blog entry on 25 April about the Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare). In that entry, I commented upon a hugely productive plant which appeared to be flowering itself to death. Well the Cockies have since shown me that it was being eaten to death by the grubs.

Thicker branch
snapped in half
The Cockies caught me by surprise, because I walked down my driveway, in the half-light of evening, suddenly these two huge birds (as big as Eagles, they seemed) flew out from where they had been chewing on this shrub.
Now, as a Robertson resident, I am totally used to seeing (and hearing) Black Cockies in the tree tops, or flying overhead. But, although I had often seen their tell-tale signs of damage, I had not ever "caught them at it", so to speak.
And another shot.
I would have to say that the Cockies do a huge amount of damage, but then, as I commented in the previous post, the shrub was clearly dying anyway. The loss of leaves was what made the shrub at my place stand out. This particular shrub in tonight's post looked more healthy than the one I mentioned as "dying" previously.
The thing to notice is that they go half-way into the branch till they find the grub which is eating out the core of the stem, (where the pithy centre is).
Cockie up a Pine Tree
shredding a Pine Cone
Local Robertson residents know the power of the beaks of these great birds, which can pick a pine cone off the tree, shred it and drop the finished cone, more easily than most of us can eat a Sweet Corn Cob. It is hardly surprising to see how they can tear apart the branches of a soft and brittle shrub.

But remember this. Cockatoos are parrots, and are supposed to be seed eaters. Vegetarians, right? Here is evidence that they love to eat fat grubs or caterpillars (moth larvae probably).
The only other Cockatoo which I know to have a similar carnivourous habit is the Gang-Gang Cockatoo, which loves to chew on "Spitfires" (the larvae of Saw Fly insects) which devour tips of Eucalypt trees.

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