Today – the 1st March – is recognized as the first day of autumn here in Australia. Thank goodness!
The 2018-2019 summer season has been brutal, with this summer being Australia’s hottest summer on record.
Where I live on the coast we’ve been lucky. Our maximum temperatures have remained, on average, around the low thirties (or the high eighties if you go by the Fahrenheit scale). It’s the high humidity of our sub-tropical climate that has really knocked us about though.
Right through summer I’ve been refreshing the water bowls every morning that I leave strategically placed where my beautiful feathered visitors will find them. I worry about the birds constantly, wondering whether I’d lose any of my regulars, but most of them continue to show up every day.
It’s a relief knowing the worst of the heat is behind us. Last night we had quite a bit of rain and this morning the air felt cool, fresh and still. My resident kookaburras came to visit, singing their raucous territorial song in my front garden, and in the distance I could hear another flock of kookies staking a claim on their territory in reply.
It’s been a few weeks now since my original, Larry, visited and I miss seeing him. His lady friend, Shilo, who would once hide behind Larry, peeking out to see if I’d noticed her, visits still with the rest of the flock. But I’ve noticed a change in her manner. She flies down to sit close to me when I feed the others. And when I pass her food, her super-timidness has been replaced by a confident gesture – by Shilo’s standards at least – she now grabs food from my hand before joining the others.
She’s not as gentle as Larry. Larry had a confident air, a steadiness of eye that I’ve never noticed in any other bird. I could pass the tiniest morsel to him and he’d peck it gently from between my fingers. But Shilo wouldn’t dream of allowing me to hand-feed her when Larry was around.
I wish Shilo could tell me what has become of Larry. My fearless friend has been visiting for over ten years, and given the lifespan of a kookaburra is around 11-15 years, maybe Larry didn’t make it through the heat of the summer. I prefer not to think about that possibility though. Kookaburras mate for life, so what is Shilo to do now?
Thankfully, Larry and Shilo’s clan has grown in numbers over the years. Now, every afternoon when they visit, I do a head-count. I have seven regulars visiting. Hopefully some of the younger birds are noticing the trust Shilo has in me. Perhaps in her timid way, Shilo is doing the same as Larry, by setting an example of trust.
Maybe over time, the youngsters will learn to trust me too.
Postscript: I have to wonder, are birds psychic? Three hours after writing this post I went outside to feed the kookaburras, just as I do every afternoon. Today, as I approached a kookaburra waiting in Shilo’s usual place, another bird flew down … the waiting bird was Larry, and Shilo sat beside him. As usual, she took her food, then joined the others. Larry stayed, gently taking each small piece of meat from my hand as I passed it to him.
I wonder where he’s been? He looked fantastic! Clean, bright eyed, and as calm as ever. 🙂