Marg’s Australian Backyard

ECLECTUS CHICK HATCHING FROM AN EGG

This is what this little chick will grow into. If he is a male, he will be green, and if he is female, she will be red.

Aggie and Jim

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ALFIE’S STORY

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Meet Alfie. Alfie used to live in a cage inside our house, but he got so noisy and so naughty, that we decided to put him into the planted aviary in our backyard. We used to let Alfie fly around the kitchen in the mornings, but he got really aggressive when I tried to put him back in his cage. We decided to put him in the planted aviary down the back, in the hope that he would settle in. Alfie took some weeks to settle in, still preferring to sit inside his cage, in the planted aviary, but after only a few weeks, he realised that the entire enclosure was his oyster and he loved it.

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Alfie gets a friend

As Alfie was the only cockatiel in the planted aviary, we were rather worried that he would get lonely. We actually considered buying him a mate but strangely he has become firm friends with a blind, princess parrot who also lives in the aviaries. They spend their leisurely days, sunning themselves and eating, side by side. It is gorgeous to see. This is Alfie with his friend the princess parrot.

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Clever Alfie

Alfie has quite a history with our family. He was bought as a pet for my children and quickly learnt to wolf whistle, say hello, cough, laugh and mimmick the phone ringing. The only way I knew it wasn’t the real phone, was because Alfie would only “ring” twice and then stop. I’m sure he used to laugh at us when we would head to the phone, only to have him stop ringing.

Alfie’s Escape

One day whilst he was out and about in the kitchen, the real phone did ring and my daughter Michelle answered it. The message was for Tim so she walked out the back door with the phone to hand it to Tim. Imagine our combined horror when we saw Alfie go flying up into the tallest tree on the property. He had been sitting on Michelle’s shoulder and as we were so used to him being there, she forgot about him when she went out the door.
Alfie flew to the highest tree and would NOT come down, despite us trying to coax him and call him. We were of course, horrified that our little cockatiel may become hawk bait.

Alfie’s Return
4 days passed and Alfie was nowhere to be seen. On day 4, we received a phone call from Mr Wensley in Minhamite, some 10 kms away. He had pulled up on his motor bike on his property, only to have this sad little cockatiel land on his arm. Long story short, Mr Wensley was able to put Alfie in a cage and ring around the neighbours. Luckily, as I am a teacher and had related our sad tale of Alfie’s disappearance, one of our students, Ben, was able to tell Mr Wensley, that the bird might be ours.

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An hour later, Alfie was back home in his cage, tired and hungry, but alive and well.

Not again!

Some months later, the same thing happened with me when I went out the back door with Alfie on my shoulder. This time he only stayed out overnight and Michelle was able to grab him when he landed on the roof of the planted aviary, in which he now lives.

Hawk alert

The amazing thing about Alfie now is that we know when there is a hawk hanging around the aviaries, even when we are inside the house. All the other birds go quiet and hide up the back of their cages. Even though the hawks can’t get into the cages, they still cause quite a panic amongst the birds who can fly around and bash their heads on the wire or the walls. This can cause the birds to die. A hawk hanging around an aviary, is not good news.

This is where Alfie comes to the rescue again. Whilst the other birds hide up the back of their cages or in their shelters, Alfie sits out the front and calls out really loudly. It is something we noticed over a few visits by the hawk, and it now happens everytime. I’m not sure what Alfie thinks he can do to ward off the hawk, but to see him clinging fearlessly to the wire, screeching out the alarm, is quite heroic.

So, that is Alfie’s story and this is Alfie, as usual, watching for hawks.

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COOKIE’S STORY

Cookie is an Australian wood duck. He prowls around the walk ways of our aviaries, and we refer to him as “a duck with attitude.” He grew up in our aviaries so he considers the walkways his territory. He hates being patted or cuddled but he adores being near you when we are out there and will follow us around for the entire time we are down the back. Look out if you wear thongs into the aviaries. Cookie has a real problem with toes. I suspect that maybe he wishes he had toes instead of webbed feet???? Not sure, but toes are definitely NOT safe in his company.

Cookie is a huge favourite with visitors. Tim and I brought the prep – 2 children out here last year and when we got them back to school, the most favoured bird or experience was Cookie. that makes us laugh. Check out his gorgeous feathers as he stands proudly on his log, overseeing all that goes on in the aviaries.

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GOULDIAN FINCHES

These birds defy description. If a child painted one, you would think they had gone overboard with the colour palette. They are exquisite little finches – probably my favourite finch of all.

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LIFE ON THE FOREST FLOOR

Aren’t these little Scarlet Chested Parrots just divine? The little finches with them are Diamond Fire Tails and they are exquisite as well. We scatter seed on the ground and these little sweeties come from all over to feed. Clearly they don’t mind the camera either.

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ECLECTUS PARROTS

Although there is an Australian Eclectus Parrot, the birds we have in our aviaries are actually the New Guinea variety, which means they are slightly smaller than the Australian bird. Nonetheless, they are absolutely beautiful. They are dimorphic – meaning that the male and female are totally different colours. The cock bird is green and the hen bird is red and blue. In fact, when people first discovered the eclectus parrot, they decided that they must be two different birds entirely.

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