Curvy Companions

On Christmas Day 2018,  I was invited to lunch at my friends Jo & Chris’ place. Their home is in a gully surrounded by tall trees, a cool haven on a hot day.

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Besides, our crowd of about 12 of us, the 3 dogs and 2 chooks, some local birds dropped in. You could hear the Rainbow Lorikeets squawking before you saw them. They’re raucous clowns.

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Then, a rarer King Parrot got braver.

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 … gorgeous in its scarlet and green in the heat of the day.

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The household chooks paid no mind, just got down to business. What a cloak of feathers!

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It was the sudden appearance of his mate that made me go out and stare at her. She made not a sound. I had to get closer … get a photo. What a gift! I love wild birds.

They say King Parrots are not good talkers. They say that as pets they can live 25 years. They say Rainbow Lorikeets can be better talkers and can live 20 years. I hate to see them in cages.

I once had a hairdresser who expected his two South American  parrots to outlive him and had instructions in his Will to cover this eventuality.

Now I recall a ballad I came upon about King George V (Queen Elizabeth 11’s grandfather). Here, in Australia, he’s remembered as the then Duke of Cornwall and heir to the British throne who formally opened the inaugural session of our Australian Parliament in May 1901. The area in front of Brisbane City Hall is named after him – King George Square, site of civic celebrations and festivities.

The story goes that George had a pet parrot. When he was 12 he and his older brother were sent to do a stint in the Royal Navy. As a 17 year old Midshipman on HMS Bucchante, he bought himself an African Grey on shore leave in Port Said.

‘Charlotte’ became a very good talker and the King’s longtime friend. She would call out phrases like “Where’s the Captain?” and “God Save the King!”  Here’s an extract from that ballad composed by one of my favourite English poets, Charles Causley – When George the Fifth Was a Midshipman  –

When the King was ill and ailing

And very nearly died

They shut her out of the bedroom;

Left her in the passage outside.

Bless my buttons! said Charlotte.

 

But when his illness was ended

She was first at His Majesty’s bed;

Danced for joy on the pillow

And over his anointed head.

God saved the King! said Charlotte.

Of course there are more stories about parrots. You must know one! The old favourite about the cat and the parrot. Can you recall the first parrot you ever met? … I’ll tell a Nasruddin Hodja story about ‘Why a turkey is more valuable than a parrot’ at our next Storytelling Unplugged session on Hodja tales in February. OK?

NB “Curves” Lens_artists #28 photo challenge made me think of parrots’ beaks for some reason! We’ll see how it goes …

Sources

Australian King Parrot. Accessed 12 January 2019 https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Australian_king_parrot

CAUSLEY, Charles Jack and the Treacle Eater. Illustrations by Charles Keeping. London, Macmillan, 1987.pp 29-31.

George V- Wikiwand. Accessed 12 January 2019. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/George_V

Lorikeets the Clowns .Accessed 12 January 2019 http://www.betterpetsandgardens.com.au/pet-care/birds-and-poultry/keeping-lorikeets/

All text (except quote) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is Copyright © under Australian Law.

Oops! I fell : Weekly Photo Challenge

MSCF2578I was walking along, minding my own business a couple of weeks ago when, at my feet a flurry of colour made me side-step. “Oops! What is that?”

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A fledging was staggering about beside me … probably got a bit too cocky looking down from a hollow, high up in that tall eucalypt nearby. My … there was a lot of squawking going up there.

Instant dilemma. (Thinks: I shouldn’t pick it up. How will it get back up to safety? It can’t fly! Is it hurt? What can I do?) While I worried, the creature took action.

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 It finally got started after two floppy, failed attempts and began to climb. I could hear my grandmother saying … If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. I shakily took photos.

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“Breathe and hold, ” I muttered to myself and the bird, then pressed the shutter.

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The fledgling was a young Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, in a punk phase, totally unfazed by my presence. Other lorikeets were making a racket from bushes on both sides of the path. It’s not for nothing that the collective noun is a “pandemonium” of parrots.

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As the fledgling gingerly climbed higher, its feathers settled when it sat. There was still a way to go to get to safety.

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This all took about 5 minutes. The bird took a breather every so often and preened. There’s the tree I think it fell from, on the left. That pandemonium of lorikeets squawked continuously until the youngster had climbed out of my reach.

I stepped out, heartened by that plucky little bird’s persistence and determination. Boy, that bird taught me a thing or two! It wanted to fly … it was learning to fly! It wasn’t going to quit.

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I need to acknowledge a traditional Aboriginal story and popular children’s picture book here, called How the birds got their colours which features a Rainbow Lorikeet.  Pamela Lofts created the book of this story, which she heard from Mary Albert of the Bardi people of Western Australia. It was published, illustrated with children’s responses as paintings, in 2004 … a classic, widely used in schools and still in print,

This recent YouTube video (Don’t be put off by the 10 sec ad. at the start), directed and filmed by Teagan Spratt and Alannah Bryne retells this Aboriginal legend, as part of a Media Arts assignment in 2014. A significant feature is the explanation by Aboriginal elder Bill Buchanan, as he answers questions about the cultural significance of such stories, told to children.

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All text and photos, except where indicated, are by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

How The Birds Got Their Colours. Dir. Teagan Spratt and Alannah Byrnne. YouTube. YouTube, 1 June 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93UIsjYz75k&gt;.

Adult Scaly-breasted Lorikeet

Adult Scaly-breasted Lorikeet

Updated _ Scaly-breasted Lorikeet: Basic Information from Birds in Backyards. Web. Downloaded 3 Jan 2017.<http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Trichoglossus-chlorolepidotus&gt;

Oops!