28 June 2006

The Barking Cockatoo and Other Animals

As I mentioned in my first post, there is a cockatoo on the property. Hooks (don't ask) is a sulphur crested cockatoo who thinks she is human. Fred, her owner, has had her since he was 13 years old and Hooks is now about 35, just in her prime, in human terms.

The Aussies amongst you know about the cockatoo's vicious beak and there are many of us who have received a nip from that appendage, from supposedly friendly birds. If you saw Fred and Hooks, your heart would be in your mouth. She sits on his arm and while he strokes her, she is absolutely quivering with love and ecstacy and very gently nibbling Fred's lower lip with that cruel looking hooked beak. The first time I saw that, I was horrified thinking that any moment Hooks would chomp down on Fred's lip. But no, she just gave very gentle loving nibbles. As Fred said, he trusts her implicitly and of course, she has bonded very strongly to her "father". Sitting here typing this, I can hear Hooks calling out. Fred must be home.

If I walk past her (when Fred's home, she roams around the place), I hear "Hullo?", then she will call out, "Fred? Fred!" to warn him that I'm around. One day, Fred was out the front in the garden and I could hear Hooks calling and calling to him. It sounded rather unusual, so I went to investigate. Yes, there was Hooks still in her aviary and Fred was in the garden without her! Shame on you, Fred! I opened the front sliding door and told Fred he was so mean to his baby and he admitted he was feeling guilty about leaving Hooks inside so meekly went off to bring her out to be with him.

The two dogs are called Shelby and Ebony. Shelby is a very old golden retriever and Ebony is a black (really?) retriever/labrador cross. As dogs do, they bark sometimes, usually when a car is coming up the driveway or someone has arrived at my place. Then you hear Hooks, "Ebony! Ebony!" she scolds - and it works, believe it or not. The first time it happened, I nearly died laughing, because after Hooks' scolding, the pair of them slunk off to their beds. But this bird is a great imitator and she will also bark when she hears someone coming. Last weekend the guy over the back was roaring around on his dirt bike. As you can imagine, it was an awful noise and Hooks perfected it to an art so that it sounded like two dirt bikes, what a racket! Life around here can become confusing at times.

Then there is Oscar, my grey fluffy moggy. I was a bit worried about how he would go with the two dogs. The previous owners had a dog, part dingo Charlie was, and Oscar had him very well trained, amazing really considering the dingo heritage. Actually, I used to feel quite sorry for Charlie at times, Oscar was so mean to him. Charlie would be roaming around minding his own busines and Oscar would ambush him. Poor Charlie, I think he got quite a complex about it all.

Anyway, one day I came across the scenario of Shelby and Ebony who had obviously tried to bail Oscar up. Instead they were faced down by a fluffed up, furious cat, indignant at being barked at by mere dogs. I scolded Ebony and Shelby and told them not to speak to Oscar like that, and they mooched off looking rather downcast. Meanwhile, Oscar just sat there cleaning his paws and looking rather smug.

We also have a family of magpies that inhabit the trees on the property. I have watched them expand from a pair to six and last spring had a wonderful time watching the babies grow. I always throw a handful of cat biscuits out to mum and dad and the offspring and of course, Oscar got to realise this. He knows he isn't allowed to chase the birds, but instead will rush out and try and gobble up as many biscuits as he can, or else sit there right in the middle of them, thinking that the maggies will be afraid of him. Sucked in, Oscar! Because the magpies realise he won't chase them, they ignore him and just carry on eating the cat biscuits and feeding their young ones.

The matriarch of the clan is a rather slim bird and I am able to recognise her, probably because if she sees me in the lounge room, she will come up and tap on the glass sliding door to let me know she would like some food, thank you! Magpies are very intelligent birds and can recognise people and things that will not harm them. When I come up the driveway and stop to open the gate, they obviously recognise my car and either fly down to sit on the gatepost or wait on the lawn, knowing that I will toss them a handful of cat biscuits. And of course, our magpies have very good manners, because they don't swoop during nesting. I love their song and one maggie loves to sit on the fence outside the kitchen window and warble her heart out, she will go for about 20 minutes. It's just so lovely to hear.

One day, when I remember, I will ask one of my daughters to bring the digital camera around to get some photos of the property and the inhabitants so you can see who and what I am talking about.

That's about it for today. After the Something Awful from yesterday, I still felt rather dodgy this morning so spent a couple of hours in bed and this afternoon, I feel a lot better. Must be just some 24 hour thing but most likely your good wishes that helped me get back to normal. Well, I am very happy about that and thank you. Tomorrow my nine-year-old grandson is coming to spend the day and play with the boys next door. I will talk to you all later. Keep well and be nice to yourselves.


PEA said...

What...no kangaroo in your yard too???? lol When I think of Australia, kangaroos always come to mind! lol I loved hearing about the animals and birds around your place...we don't have Magpies here in Ontario and the only Cockatoo I've ever seen has been in a pet store. I laughed when I read about Oscar...good for him, telling them dogs who was boss! lol As for "Hook" what a very smart bird and it's wonderful that Fred has had him for so long...no wonder they have such a connection! Hope you're feeling 100% real soon.

Ky Boo Gal said...

Your decriptions are very good...sometimes we don't need pictures when someone has a gift of decription!!

Flossy said...

I will bring my camera around for you today if you like? LOL
You can take lots and lots of pictures then and I can email them to you :)
PS: Harry is all ready to go and it's only 7.30!!

slap me happy said...

Hi Robyn, hope you don't mind me popping in for a wee peek.
Enjoyed readin your posts, made me laugh. We live on acreage too near Mt Tambourine in South Brisbane. Got up to go to the supermarket came home to find that a calf had been in the property, dogs went crazy at cow, hubby went crazy at dogs and cow went crazy at fence... well I went over to the nearest neighbour(whome I have never met only to boy the bloody challenger.Nearly in tears but got out again lol. Just another day in the bush huh lol.

slap me happy said...

that was a quick return post lol. We are only 20 mins apart lol I have probably seen you at the mall at Browns Plains lol take care and thanks for coming by.