Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, September 14, 2009

Some birds of the Botanic Gardens - in Canberra

Here are a few pictures of some of the birds which hang out at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra.

The White-winged Choughs of the Botanic Gardens are like the Silver Gulls and White Ibis of the Taronga Zoo in Sydney. They hang out around the public lawns around the restaurant, but they also live in the bush-like parts of the Gardens.
Chough family grooming themselves in the sun
This one was very busy walking (running) around.
Note the red eye, and the curved beak.
Ravens have white eyes and much heavier, straighter beaks.
This Chough was perched in a tree above the tables
and it was very busy preening itself.
You can see the white primary wing-feathers.
That is a feature or which they are named, but
which is not visible until they fly.
The other really obvious birds are these Wood Ducks.
The female looks tired, and when "junior" decided to go exploring
she sent Dad off to keep an eye on things.
The male bird was in fine plumage.
This shot makes it look as if my brother, Brendan has his foot on the head of the male bird.
Of course, he does not, but with the foreshortened image (of a zoom lens) it does look that way.
Here is the duckling (a single one, by the way, which means almost certainly, the local Ravens got the others in the clutch, when they were very much smaller.)
Very cute, but totally without fear - not a good attribute for a duckling!
When the Male Wood Duck decided that the little duckling
has strayed too close to Brendan it intervened.
It came between the duckling and Brendan.
It then hissed at him, with its neck stretched out.
Get the message?
Unmistakable, I would have thought.

Most unusually, throughout this little "charade", which we "set up" to see how close Brendan could get as a test (but a non-threatening one, I stress), the female Wood Duck did not move from her comfortable spot on the grass. That's why I say all this threatening body language was a charade, for it is normally the females who do the serious guarding of the ducklings. She knew junior was not in any danger, but Dad was on the baby-sitting roster - so he had to make it look good!


mick said...

I love the photo of the male Wood Duck. We have Wood Ducks around here most of the year but I have never seen that behavior nor been that close to any of them. It's interesting how habitat such as a park also changes the behavior of the birds.

Gouldiae said...

G'day Denis,
Nice to have such birds in a 'garden setting' isn't it? I guess most visitors to a Botanic Gardens are not going to cause the birds much concern, and so they become more accommodating.
I was reminded very much of around here, where Choughs and Wood Ducks are two of the most common species on the golf course.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Mick and Gouldiae.
The comment Gouldiae made (after yours, Mick) addresses the same point - the situation in the Botanic Gardens allows the birds to feel safe - with the exception of toddlers who see the "Duckies" as wind-up toys to chase. But fortunately, most parents eventually step in, and besides, most Toddlers can do no serious harm.
Choughs and Wood-Ducks are remarkable for their ability to adjust to the open grassland habitats we like to create. So, Gouldiae, your Golf-course habitat is perfect for them (as well as you and your Club Members).

Christopher Taylor said...

So how exactly does one pronounce "chough", anyway? I've only ever seen the word written down, and with the variation in how English approaches those letter combinations, I can imagine it being anything from "koo" to "shuff".

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Christopher
Try "chuff".
It is an old English name from a bird of similar external appearance, although not related.
One of those things which the early settlers did with so many plants and animals - such as to name a black and white bird a "Magpie", or a tree an "Ash".
It helps justify the use of Taxonomic names, I guess.