Thursday, 28 February 2013
I was so used to seeing little birds at the bird bath — especially red-browed finches and fairy-wrens — that I didn't notice the white-headed pigeon until it burst into the air with a clattering of feathers.
To be fair, the pigeon didn't notice me either. Hence the bursting and clattering.
The bursting, by the way, is not literal. The clattering is.
This area is good for native pigeons. On a good day, you can see eight species, including several endemics.
Crested pigeons and peaceful doves perch on overhead wires or patrol lawns and cattle paddocks in the drier areas. Emerald doves strut around the rainforest floor. Up in the forest canopy, wompoo fruit-doves and topknot pigeons make their presence known by characteristic calls and a gentle rain of discarded fruit, dislodged leaves and pigeon poo, which droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. Just make sure that the place beneath is not your car. Or your head. Definitely not your head. And between the paddocks and the rainforest are brown cuckoo-doves, bar-shouldered doves and white-headed pigeons.
The white-headed pigeon (Columba leucomela) is endemic to eastern Australia. (A second native species of Columba, the metallic or white-throated pigeon (C. vitiensis) formerly occurred on Lord Howe Island, but was hunted to extinction there in the 1850s.) The other conspecific is the rock dove a.k.a. bloody feral pigeon get off the roof ya flying rat, although that species is nowhere near as abundant up here as it is in coastal towns. If you add that and the spotted dove, which is common around the larger towns, you can get your pigeon count up to ten. Not a bad list for half a day's work.