To me it will always be a Brown Pigeon, because that's the name I grew up knowing it as, and because that's such a good name for it. Look at the head - it is 100% a "pigeon's" head. And what colour is it? Well, "brown" is almost an understatement. But it is brown, not green or blue or yellow, or anything else.
|Brown Cuckoo-Dove - note head shape and soft feet|
The bird we all know in the cities of Australia as a "pigeon" is officially the Rock Dove. That birds has a shorter tail, admittedly, and is a ground feeding bird, but both it and today's bird are undeniably pigeons. Similar head, and same soft feet (note image above). But in Australia we tend to use the name "dove" for the smaller, long-tailed varieties (of Pigeons), such as the Peaceful Dove. Some are ground feeders, others are not.
There are other Pigeons, larger birds, which feed on native fruits in the Illawarra rainforests. Those are exclusively birds of the tree tops. As they travel long distances between clumps of fruit-bearing trees, they are capable of flying very fast, for long distances. Just a few days ago by Bob McInnes, reported to me a flock of 50 or so Topknot Pigeons at his place at Knights Hill. I have only ever seen just a few of these birds flying high and fast over Robertson, heading down to Kangaroo Valley. Occasionally I have seen them feeding in the tops of the rainforest below Lees Road Lookout. They are very partial to the fruit of Cabbage-tree Palms, which grow freely in the rainforests of the Illawarra and Shoalhaven districts.
Anyway, the taxonomists have a rule that any bird which is found in Australia, but is also found outside Australia, must be called by the accepted international name. There may be a question of "precedence" involved (which name was "first recognised" - by which they mean in the Scientific Literature). In the case of many Asian birds, they were known from there before they were known (in Europe obviously - because that's where the scientific naming authorities were). So the group of "pigeons" with long tails tended to be called "Cuckoo-Doves". Linnaeus named this one, and his Latinised name for it translates as "Pheasant Dove". This group of Doves (there are several closely related species) were first described from Ambon, in Indonesia. So, the name "Brown Cuckoo-Dove" is wrong in so many ways. But it is the official name, OK?
Now, what's this about the Bike?
Well, last Thursday a Brown Cuckoo-Dove had landed on the railing of my back deck, just outside the kitchen. Brendan was sitting out on the deck, and he whispered to me, as loudly and urgently as he could whisper (without disturbing the bird), "get your camera". I had no idea why, but I soon found out.
This is a male Brown Cuckoo-Dove.
It had landed on the hand-rail of my back deck.
You can note the subtle grey toning on the back of his neck.
|Brown Cuckoo-Dove - male|
By contrast, the female has a more bright reddish-brown (cinnamon) colouration on her head and neck.
|Brown Cuckoo- Dove - female (note the reddish neck)|
She was perched on top of my Barbeque hood, but it was quite safe.
That shot shows you the very long tail.
It also shows you how long-tailed birds can sit on the ground
(well, on a flat surface anyway)
without beiong troubled by their long tails.
Rosellas does exactly the same thing.
They both lean forward, and hold the tail flat.
Back to the discussion of what was going on last Thursday.
Both birds then moved around the side of my house,
(still on the deck handrail).
Then the male decided he quite liked my Bike's handlebars.
|Brown Cuckoo-Dove - pair. Male on bike handlebar, female on post.|
Both birds sat there quietly for some time,
and then they spotted Lena (the dreaded "Attack-Schnauzer")
who was going for a walk at the front of the house.
You could not find a more placid dog (and a more short-sighted one)
But the Brown Cuckoo-Doves didn't know that.
Hence the alert look on both of their "faces".
Lena wandered off on her walk, and the birds then relaxed.
This species is a regular bird around Robertson, but I have never had them perch around the house before. I hear them in the rainforest trees, and occasionally see them fly past. My friend George sometimes feeds grain to the wild birds at his place, and he gets them there as regular visitors.
But George lives over on Fountaindale Road, and there is a subtle climatic and habitat difference between my street and his, on the next ridge east from here. Fountaindale Road is one ridge closer to the coast than my street. Therefore, they get slightly more fogs over there than I do, and probably 5 inches (125mm) more rain per year. Significantly, his road is lined with Lilly Pilly trees (Acmena smithii), which is a berry-producing tree. So the habitat suits these birds ever so slightly more than my place.
My dominant trees are Blackwood Wattle and Sassafras. They are both dry seed producers, not berry producers. So my place is a better habitat for Wonga Pigeons than the Brown Cuckoo-Doves.
Many people in Robertson do not realise that a difference of less than one kilometre can make a subtle, but significant difference in rainfall and climate - resulting in a habitat change. But the Pigeons of Robertson know the difference.