Keith's bird feeder

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Nothing says Christmas like a bird feeder. Especially one in Australia.

My Bird Feeder or how the parrots became Vegan.

A parrot

Male King Parrots adorn my timber deck, looking like children's drawings of what parrots should look like: The ridiculously coloured mature male with scintillatingly bright red ripe tomato smeared across his head, chest and lower parts and eyes that occasionally occlude in the tropical sun, their irises, little yellow rings surrounding the dark eyes, while their wings are dark forest green with a little run of almost phosphorescent light green in the shape of an errant fat lightning bolt on both shoulders, whilst his rump is a deep dark blue and his tail feathers forest green once again.

Children did the decor for these birds, surely, and they squabble like children, too with a clear pecking order in their little group consisting of mature males, immature males and females and mature females who lord it over all the other birds if they're mated to the alpha male – and even he sometimes defers to his partner's temperament if she wants the feed laid out for them.

It is a double-edged sword inviting these already locally resident members of the bush and surrounding tropical gardens to avail themselves of the 'Wild Parrot Mix with Sunflower Seeds' generously heaped in the bird feeder that hangs from fishing line cunningly draped over a branch 15 metres up a Tallowood gumtree. The fishing line has little white bows made of plastic shopping bags so the birds don't fly into the near invisible fishing line. The feeder needs to be above ground for a number of reasons, with the main one being domestic cats, which will kill all birds they can get their claws, on just as they will kill all wildlife that moves here... moggies are not loved in Keith's household or the surrounding households.

All the parrots that feed here bar the beautiful Eastern Rosella go straight for the sunflower seeds, and then they pick through the other seeds (millet, barley, cracked corn, hulled oats, dried red pepper) with ever-diminishing enthusiasm.

The head kickers of the bird feeder are the Rainbow Lorikeets, who fear nothing big or small and will stand their ground against all comers to the feeder; King parrots twice their size sit back mournfully as their smaller cousins devour the prized sunflower seeds. Only after all are consumed will they fly off and leave the less desirable seeds to the loitering King parrots, who then bicker and squabble amongst themselves – quite often scattering the uneaten seed down to the ground, where the timid Eastern Rosellas with metronomic nods and nervous glances eagerly devour this literal manna from heaven.

All this happens daily around the daylight hours until nothing remains above ground in the feeder or upon the scratched turf below, and doleful parrots with a melancholy air sadly talk amongst themselves in the surrounding rain forest trees and hard eucalypts that cover the valley, sending out a message for more and also letting all and sundry know of their imminent starvation...a call that must be ignored, as wild birds should be fed not at all, say some wise heads. But we feed them once or twice a week, and miss a week now and then so habits don't form: such beauty as this should not be denied by harsh counsel, and besides, when there is no seed, they eat my green tomatoes and unripe native plums... oh, and my broccoli heads and my seeding lettuces and next month's lettuces therein, as well as poking a beak or six into the courgettes (or zucchinis if you prefer) and the seeding coriander (or cilantro) and cucumbers and pumpkins – if there is a chance or a hint of a seed, then they'll have a dig in to see.

It is a double-edged sword, indeed.

Goldfinches eating seed from a bird feeder.
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Keith Miller

24.12.12 Front Page

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