Tag Archives: bird

Rainbows On An Overcast Day…

Often, it’s all too easy to miss the rainbows on an overcast day. All we see is grey clouds. Complain about the rain. Swear the sun will never come out again. Indeed, we might even forget that the sun exists at all, and has only been covered up by the clouds. It hasn’t been smothered to death.

Well, it’s still raining and overcast here after more days and nights than Noah ever spent in the ark, and this terrible dreariness is seemingly never-ending. Yet, about an hour ago, Geoff called out and asked if I’d seen the Rainbow Lorikeets perched just outside our kitchen window. Of course, I hadn’t. I was sitting at the table reading, and hadn’t even glanced outside. Why would I? The weather’s bad. None of the trees are flowering, and to be honest, it all just looks wet and dreary. What I was reading was much more interesting.

However, I did get up to have a look, and went to fetch my camera. Not so much for myself though. While Rainbow Lorikeets are commonplace here, I know many of you haven’t seen them, and I took these photos for you. Indeed, I was simply trying to be a vessel, so you could see through me.

Inevitably, I was also drawn under their spell. I have always adored these birds. When I was a child and we didn’t know any better, we’d put out bread and honey soaking in water to attract them. They love it. However, they don’t recommend that for their health anymore. Besides, we’re lucky they’re often living in our backyard, and have taken up residence.

Meanwhile, on sunset seemingly thousands of Rainbow Lorrikeets return to their roosting trees by the beach for the night. The entire tree is literally exploding with rainbow feathers and noise. I can’t quite call it “music”, although it’s far more melodious than the raucous screeching of the cockatoos as they fly overhead heading off wherever it is they call “bed”.

“Look at me!”

Anyway, once I’d ventured outside with my camera, I was absolutely captivated myself, and almost as enthusiastic as when I first saw them over 40 years ago. Moreover, with their cheeky little faces, the little show offs were sitting with their perfect supermodel poses just waiting for me to take their portrait from their best angle.

Straight off an artist’s palette, I ask how can all that feathered colour not bring you joy even on the darkest of days, even if only for the briefest of moments?

Well, that is easy for me to say. I am safe and comfortable. I have a roof over my head, and even the air-conditioner is running. I’m not destitute or struggling to survive after the devastating flood waters which had decimated Lismore on the NSW North Coast. I’m definitely not in the Ukraine.

However, I watch the news and think of the people of Ukraine. I imagine that for them personally enduring what we only see on TV, that it must be hard to remember beauty, goodness and kindness still exist. Immersed in such brutal destruction at the hands of Putin’s forces, it must also be hard to believe in a good, loving and gracious God. or that he is reflected in the world and in our humanity. Yet, I also know that such brutal times can also bring out the best in people too and we can ironically feel closer to God than ever.

Gosh! How I wish I could do more and offer all these struggling souls a cup of tea, a warmed blanket, a hug, a smile, anything to remind them of the goodness of humanity. Yet, here I am tapping away on my keyboard snuggled up inside with my dog, the whole family is home today with one sick but it’s not covid so it’s all good. However, life here isn’t always this good, and there have been many times where I too have felt cursed, and particularly singled out by the adversities of life. I, too, have fallen on the ground and asked why? Why me?

So, even I still need to keep looking out for the good in this world, like these stunning Rainbow Lorikeets. I need to resist being swallowed up by what’s going on in my world, and by all the things which seem to be so precariously balanced and could so easily be destroyed by a puff of wind or that great enemy of joy – covid. “Rowena, do not let yourself go under.” I hear the words loud and clear. It has been a battle at times lately, and it’s funny how doing something as simple as getting out my camera and really focusing on the minute details of those feathers and their bright colours, has helped turn things around. Indeed, perhaps the same might work for you!

That is my hope, and my prayer for you wherever you are, and what ever your personal or community circumstances might be. As George Bernard Shaw wrote:

“Life is not meant to be easy, my child but take courage: it can be delightful.“

We need to hold onto this!

Love and blessings,


Snapshots of Australian Birds.

Perhaps, I should’ve tossed my research hat out the window, when we arrived in Byron Bay. That way, I could appreciate a pretty photo for what it is without having to research everything I see to the nth degree. Clearly, I ask too many questions and if I were a less complicated soul, I could’ve simply posted these bird photos without any explanation at all. Not even a name.

Consequently, what started out as brief snapshots of some of the birds we encountered around Byron Bay, has expanded into something much more complex and I must admit I’ve learned quite a lot myself along the way. After all, I take my role at Beyond the Flow as Australian tour guide seriously. I not only want you to see what I saw. I also wanted to share some local, lived insights which you won’t find in a more scientific account of my stunning feathered friends.   These photos were taken in my in-laws’ backyard and at the Macadamia Castle, which has a bird aviary. It’s not quite the same as seeing them in the wild, but it does make it easier to get a good photograph. Yet, as much as I love photography, I’d naturally prefer all birds to fly free.

So welcome to the cast:

Sulfur-Crested Cockatoo

Although this guy lives at the Macadamia Castle, sulfur-crested cockatoos are very common in the wild where we live on the NSW Central Coast and in Sydney. You can’t appreciate these crazy characters from a simple photograph. They’ll perch up in the trees or telegraph wires and swoop down kamikaze style across car windscreens and only narrowly escape being hit. They’re absolutely cheeky, and don’t let that gorgeous feathered-face deceive you. They’re very destructive and are renowned for chewing through wood-trim on your house, your balcony, and stripping fruit trees bare. Moreover, behind that beautiful smile, lies an ear-piercing screech. Yet, despite their shenanigans, they still want to be your best friend and crave attention. They seem to love posing for the camera with a huge cheeky grin and you might even get a “Hello”.


Jacko with family cropped out.

When I was a young child about 8 years old, my Dad bought a baby sulfur-crested cockatoo, called Jacko. He initially lived in a cage in the laundry inside where he had the joy of listening to my father’s voice on an old tape recorder. Indeed, it was an old tape recorder then, although I think cassettes were somewhat new at the time. It was 1977. I still remember that old recording and will take it to my grave…”Hello Jacko! Hello Jacko!” Jacko made it outside into the aviary but didn’t stay with us for very long. We were moving house and there seemed to be some kind of “discussion” between my parents. Although we were moving onto five acres, it seems there was no room for Dad’s birds and Jacko went to live with friends. So, not unsurprisingly,  sulfur-crested cockatoos have a special place in my heart.

Rainbow Lorikeets

Rainbow Lorrikeet

Rainbow Lorikeets are the happiest little birds on earth and on sunset you can here them chirping away drunk on nectar in the trees if you’re lucky…or not depended on your perspective. My friend’s mum planted a red bottlebrush outside his bedroom window and he was woken up by a swarm of rainbow lorikeets at the crack of dawn whenever it was in flower. He was not amused.

Amelia Rainbow Lorrikeet

Our daughter feeding seed to the Rainbow Lorikeet  at the Macadamia Castle last week. 

The Rainbow Lorikeet isn’t as outgoing or interactive as the Sulfur-Crested Cockatoo and seem reasonably gentle. Back in the day when we mere mortals weren’t as educated about looking after wildlife, we’d coat a slice of bread in honey and soak it in water on a plate and put it out in the backyard. The Australian museum refers to such backyard feeding as “artificial feeding stations”, but the birds didn’t mind. That bread and honey was a sure-fire magnet. They loved it.

The Galah


Galahs feeding in the backyard.

These galahs were photographed in my in-laws’ backyard, where they had quite a large flock of galahs. Apparently, numbers there have increased lately due to the drought and possibly also the fires. The in-laws have planted bird-attracting plants, but given the drought, have also been putting seed and water out for the birds. It’s been interesting watching the changing cast of characters out at the seed bowl. The galah’s are at the top of the pecking order, and shoo away the doves who sit perched up on the wire above waiting for the galahs to buzz off. There are also some pretty red-breasted finches who have their own seed bowl in the thicket.

Galahs were originally located in arid, inland Australia, and only expanded into their present, vast range in the early- to mid-20th century. The galah’s scientific name is Eolophus roseicapilla. Its holotype was collected in Australia in 1801 by biologists on the Expedition led by France’s Nicolas Baudin and is held in the Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle, in Paris.

The word galah comes from Yuwaalaraay and related Aboriginal languages of northern New South Wales. In early records it is variously spelt as galargillargulah, etc. The word is first recorded in the 1850s. The bird referred to is the grey-backed, pink-breasted cockatoo Eolophus roseicapillus, occurring in all parts of Australia except the extreme north-east and south-west. It is also known as the red-breasted cockatoo and rose-breasted cockatoo.

The term “galah” has also entered the Australian vernacular, and is a derogatory term meaning a “loud-mouthed idiot”, “fool”, “clown” and is also use to describe gaudy dress. It  has also inspired a number of colloquial idioms: To be “mad as a gumtree full of galahs is to be completely crazy. “To make a proper galah of yourself” is to make a complete fool of yourself. A “pack of galahs” is a group of contemptibly idiotic people. If you’re a fan of that great Aussie TV export Home and Away, you might’ve heard Alf Stewart complain: “Ya flamin’ galah”, which means you’re a complete idiots.

The Laughing Kookaburra


Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree. They might look cute and sound hilarious but they have the last laugh once they’ve snatched the snags off your BBQ!

Of course, even these brief snapshots of Australian birds, wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the kookaburra, even though it didn’t feature central stage. Indeed, the photo I’ve included here was taken at Pearl Beach round the corner from home where they’re rather partial to stealing sausages (Or snags in the Aussie vernacular) straight off the BBQ without any concern about burning their beaks!! We spotted a few kookaburras while we were on holidays around Byron Bay, but what I remember most was hearing the kookaburras laugh while I was floating on my back at Brunswick Heads watching fluffy white clouds scud across the deep blue sky. There was absolutely no doubt I was in Australia. Indeed, over the years, the sound of kookaburras laughing has been used to create a sense of Australia in movies over the years.

Aunty Rose & Kookaburra

My Great Great Aunt Rose Bruhn with her pet kookaburra who appeared on Brisbane radio.

Australian King Parrot

Male King Parrot

Male Australian King Parrot

This parrot is living at the Macadamia Castle. Although I’ve occasionally seen them in the wild i.e. my backyard, they’re quite shy and not all that common. Indeed, it’s a real treat to spot one.

Male Australian King-Parrots are the only Australian parrots with a completely red head. Females are similar to males except that they have a completely green head and breast. Both sexes have a red belly and a green back, with green wings and a long green tail. King parrots are normally encountered in pairs or family groups.

The Emu


We also saw the emus at the Macadamia Castle. I had no idea how the emu originally got it’s name. However, it turns out that ’emu’ isn’t an Aboriginal word. Rather, it might have been derived from an Arabic word for large bird and later adopted by early Portuguese explorers and applied to cassowaries in eastern Indonesia. The term was then transferred to the Emu by early European explorers to Australia.


Emus are a funny-looking flightless bird, which also makes quite a peculiar sound. Not that I’m being judgemental. I haven’t spent a lot of time with emus, although they used to have a few at the Australian Reptile Park up the road from home, and they were savage food thieves. In the wild, packs of emus have been known to decimate farms. I think my grandfather used emu oil to treat his arthritis.

Emu feet

Emu feet. 

My childhood memories of emus, include a show called: Marty and Emu. It took a bit of detective work to dig that one out of the memory bank. They appeared on a kids’ show called: The Super Flying Fun Show, which was hosted by “Miss Marilyn” Mayo. Of interest to Australians, Darryl Somers appeared later on in the history of the show, and you can see how Hey Hey It’s Saturday with Darryl and Ossie Ostrich evolved from there. It turns out that Rod Hull had appeared with emu on the show before my time  and a duplicate emu was made when Hull returned to the UK and continued his performances over there.

Marty & emu

Marty Morton & Emu (I was so excited to see them again!)

Of course, when we’re talking about cultural representations of the emu, you can’t go past John Williamson’s classic: Old Man Emu:

These are only some of the birds we saw on our travels. The ones we photographed or found most interesting. We also saw a large flock of black cockatoos on the drive North, which we had no chance of photographing, but they were good to see. There were also crows and magpies.
I’ll sign off with this photo of a duck in plastic kiddies wading pool at the Macadamia Castle. Usually, this pond is full. However, there’s been such low rainfall that the pond’s dried up for the first time in the 15 years we’ve been going there. These are clearly hard times for our wildlife (and domestic ducks).
What is your favourite Australian bird? Please share in the comments below.
Best wishes,


When it Takes the Village…Friday Fictioneers.

There was no reason why he couldn’t ski off the edge of Mt Kosciusko. Fly across the valley with the crow. Not even for the smallest nanosecond, did he actually consider his human form. That while his spirit soared, that he was made of flesh and blood and belonged to the Earth.

“Joshua! Joshua!” The crow was calling his name.

“Joshua!” His mother’s scream echoed across the valley. Only the power of prayer could save him now.

The stranger could almost sense his skis mysteriously turning under foot, then spotted the troubled young man and understood. His time had come.


100 Words

This story is dedicated to families who love and cherish children with special needs and the constant vigilance required to keep them safe. An 11 year old autistic boy was run over and killed by a train in Sydney last week after escaping from a care facility.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields.

Best wishes,




The Australian Magpie.

I photographed this magpie or “Maggie” at my friend’s place today. While they can become territorial and aggressive during Spring, they’re found  throughout most backyards, at least around here, and are mostly very tame. It’s quite clear that they’re worked out humans are a great source of food and they make themselves part of the family. Our elderly neighbours were being eaten out of house and home by their baby magpie who’d also make quite a lot of noise demanding to be fed. My friend volunteers for an animal rescue service and the magpie has discovered the puppies food bowl and helped itself. I guess you could call it “fast food”. Apparently, we have a family of maggies living in our jacaranda tree out the back. Geoff tells me that they’re “resprayed” our Morris Minor.

What types of birds do you have in your backyard? Please share in the comments below.

xx Rowena


The Path…A Magnetic Poem.

Today, I was struck on the head by the magnetic muse in what could only be described as a “coup de foudre”.

In case you “ne comprendez pas”, that means falling in love at first sight. I thought falling in love, or becoming addicted, sounded much more dramatic in French.

Like a proverbial matchmaker,  Merril D Smith  introduced me writing magnetic poetry online at http://play.magneticpoetry.com/ It’s so much fun. I chose the nature theme and I was thrilled with the results. I felt my poetry gained very rich symbolism and I put images together which I never would’ve thought of combining before, yet made such sense and expanded my vision exponentially.

Dare I ask you what you think?

Well, here goes:

The Path

Shine moon spirit.



My soul is withered.

I wander down a lonely path.

Every daffodil Spring,

the bright, blue bird walks

through the fresh earth.

Garden tendrils rustled.

Then some seed said:

“Use intuition.

There’s a sanctuary.”

Secret winds murmur:

“Climb the ancient mountain.

Know her peace.


Leave moss be.

Make song.”


I thrive.

Rowena Newton

Magnetic Poetry 23rd November, 2016.

Have you been struck by the magnetic muse? I’d love to hear how you went.

xx Rowena

Bird O’Clock

For the bird lovers out there, here’s a extension of my recent Lazy Birds post https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/lazy-birds-of-byron-bay/.

Kath Unsworth from Minuscule Moments has some beautiful photographs of some of our beautiful Australian birds. You can check her post out here:  http://kathunsworth.com/2015/09/15/bird-oclock/

xx Rowena

Lazy Birds of Byron Bay

Humans aren’t the only ones to flock to Byron Bay.

It seems that Byron Bay’s reputation as a tropical, hippy haven hasn’t been lost on the local bird population who flock here in droves. It seems they’ve found a free meal ticket cleaning up after messy, grotty humans as well as turning to begging and crime: “Please Sir. I want some more!”

So, rather than introducing you to all the stunning, more popular birds, today I’m exposing the lazy hangers-on. What are often referred to colloquially as “pests”.

Starting off with the native White Ibis, we spotted this birds foraging through rubbish bins, which didn’t raise an eyebrow because these birds literally survive on such junk food and have even been rumoured to eat battery acid from old car batteries. I know that doesn’t sound very compassionate but try eating a sandwich in the park near one of these birds and no guesses who’ll win. These birds can be thugs!

If you look left, you can see Ibis foraging in the grass like a herd of cows.

If you look left, you can see Ibis foraging in the grass like a herd of cows.

Although we Australians should be enamored with all our native bird species, even the sea gull, the Ibis is often considered a pest. Known colloquially as “dumpster divers”, “flying rats” and “tip turkeys”, Although you currently find them in urban and coastal environments, they hark from wetlands further inland which have significantly shrunk since the 1970s. However, unlike other affected species, the ibis made the surprise move to near the coast, where their numbers thrived. I recommend you read: The Ibis: A Native Bird Misunderstood:

Couldn't find any photos of sea gulls at Byron Bay so these ones are closer to home.

Couldn’t find any photos of sea gulls taken at Byron Bay so these ones are closer to home.

The Sea Gull is another notoriously lazy bird. Although I’ve read that Sea Gulls are actually rather smart and can crack molluscs open by dropping them on a rock,you’ve got to wonder how much real food they eat when they feast all day on hot chips. Indeed, when it comes to feasting off human beings and living the lazy bird life style, seagulls have got it down to a fine art. Moreover, unlike dogs, they don’t even have to use puppy dog eyes to get what they want.

Mister feeding left over bread to the sea gulls back in 2009, aged 5.

Mister feeding left over bread to the sea gulls back in 2009, aged 5.

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”
― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

However, although sea gulls can be rather annoying and they’re so common that they’re not all that exciting, I still have a soft spot for them. You see, one of my favourite books of all time is Richard Bach’s Jonathon Livingstone Sea Gull. It’s an absolutely incredible, life-changing book. So, if you haven’t read it, get a copy immediately. Do not pass go and do not collect $200.00.

Pied Currawong, Byron Bay Lighthouse looking towards Julien Rocks.

Pied Currawong, Byron Bay Lighthouse looking towards Julien Rocks.

At Byron Bay Lighthouse, we also spotted the Currawong, which was cleaning up biscuit crumbs.

While Currawongs don’t bother humans, they are the bully boys of Australian birds. There is good evidence that Currawongs are targeting babies of other birds to feed their own nestlings. Currawongs have been recorded taking babies of small birds like Thornbills and Fairy Wrens, Bronze-winged pigeons and even ducklings….and you thought it had a pretty face! http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/fact-sheets/conservation-the-environment/currawongs/#.Vhjgzisve4o

That face also seems to tell me:”It’s all lies. It wasn’t me!”

Don’t believe it! Scientists are vigilant and they have proof!

Brush Turkey Crossing the Car Park, Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Brush Turkey Crossing the Car Park, Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Now, we’re onto the Brush Turkey.

Indeed, a Google search on the much maligned Brush Turkey pointed straight to Brush Turkey Solutions http://www.brushturkeysolutions.com.au/ . These people will relocate a bush turkey which has moved into your backyard. I’ve got to say that Australians historically have not dealt with such pests well and it’s a relief to find a fully qualified animal behaviourist who will help you re-home this birds in a humane way. Their web site also has some great information about the Brush Turkey and is well worth a read. http://www.brushturkeysolutions.com.au/#!bush-turkey-biology/cfvg

Personally, I love Brush Turkeys. Large, ground-dwelling birds are quite a novelty. Indeed, I only saw my first Brush Turkey about 10 years ago. They used to turn up at playgroup in Pearl Beach and the kids used to chase them. So, really all I saw back then was a “flash”.

In this time, however, populations of Brush Turkeys have taken off and their huge mounds where they incubate their eggs aren’t always appreciated in suburban backyards.

We saw quite a few Brush Turkeys while in Byron Bay and I must say that pretty much like the Ibis, they don’t seem to mind humans and were quite close. Usually, I’ve known them to be more shy.

Magpie on the roof of the lighthouse keeper's cottage, Byron Bay lighthouse.

Magpie on the roof of the lighthouse keeper’s cottage, Byron Bay lighthouse.

A late addition…not to be forgotten, the Magpie. Most of the time, relations between humans and magpies are very good. Indeed, quite often humans adopt wild magpies and feed them on a daily basis. Our pensioner neighbours back home feed meat to the magpies every day and welcome them. That was until junior became a bit too demanding and was deemed a pest.

During nesting season, however, magpies can be quite terrifying as they swoop at passersby.

To hear the magpies amazing song, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYEYc8Ge3nw

So, I apologise for not introducing you to the more popular Australian birds. Stay tuned. It’s coming up but not any time soon.

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

xx Rowena

Bird Rescue

I am trying to think like a pigeon…a mother pigeon.

My kids, bless their cheeky little souls, decided to “rescue” two baby native pigeons from the nest in their climbing tree and now we are trying to reunite them with their mum.  This all happened yesterday when Mister was home sick from school and I have been fighting off some kind of tummy ache for weeks. It’s amazing how a sick kid can still get up to mischief…even if it’s well-intentioned!

Miss with a baby bird

Miss with a baby bird

Anyway, we put the birds back in the nest yesterday afternoon and waited…and waited. By 10.00PM when there was still no sign of the parents, we brought them inside for the night and returned them to the nest this morning.

The nest is in my kids’ climbing tree and it’s probably only thanks to Minecraft that the kids had not found the nest sooner. My kids are budding naturalists and love anything that moves.

You could just imagine their excitement when they found two live baby birds in “their tree”!!!!

I was still in my PJs and barely walking but called out to them to leave the birds alone. Put them back!

Then Mister pipes up: “I’m rescuing them so they can go to the RSPCA. “

“What????” I’m thinking to myself. “They already have a Mum and Dad. They don’t need to be rescued!!” I said matter-of-factly.

By this stage, however, mother bird was flapping in the tree and flew away and each pair of little hands was carefully clutching their prized baby bird. They found containers for them and made them nests despite them already having a nest and their own bird parents where they had been quite happy and content before being supposedly “rescued”.

I also have to admit that as much as I was trying to be the responsible adult, I was drawn to the tiny, fluffy fledglings myself. They are the size of a chicken chick and fit perfectly into your hand. It was very tempting just to keep them but we can’t feed them. They are still crop fed and need their mum.

The bay birds sitting on their towel nest

The baby birds sitting on their towel nest

The tree is right next to Mister’s bedroom so I could get a good view of the nest from in there to see whether the parents had come back. Much to my horror, the nest had fallen over and I rushed to the base of the tree to find what had become of “my” baby birds. I scooped them up and returned them to our nest inside.

The Nest

The Nest

It was time to take more serious action. This is where things became more difficult. You see, if you are a native animal, WIRES will take care of you. If not, you’re off to the RSPCA and I’d have a longish drive to get them there, which is beyond me at the moment. The WIRES phone line specifically mentions that they do not help pigeons. I was feeling a bit down but also quietly confident that I’d be able to find someone around here with a big heart (other than our friends who have recently rescued about 5 cats. They have big hearts with room for way more animals but I sense a slight incompatibility issue here.)

I was feeling a bit sad about such I guess discrimination and how your fate can depend on where you were born or your type and it wouldn’t be so bad if these “rules” just applied to injured wildlife.

Anyway, our little pigeon chicks had a reprieve. Geoff mentioned that they’re a breed of native pigeon called a Crested Pigeon. They were fine.

I was just about to call WIRES when I heard a tell-tale pigeon noise near the tree and spotted mother pigeon. This is why I’m trying to think like a mother pigeon. How is she going to know that her babies are sitting in the box wrapped up in a towel? The babies are motionless and silent. How would she know they were in there? Could she smell them? Are they making sounds I can’t hear? I don’t know. I’m just trying to give them a bit of space so they can get reunited before I try to get the nest back up in the tree. Actually, I suspect I’m going to have to make a nest or at the very least find a container for their nest. The original is looking rather worse for wear.

As you could imagine, I didn’t need this bird drama. I have been quite unwell lately and I’ve actually arranged for some help getting the kids ready for school and friends are taking them to and from school while my tummy recovers. I haven’t eaten properly for almost a week. I’m not sure whether it’s stress or a virus and the way people keep implicating gluten, that’s also a possibility. I just want to feel better and get my energy back. I’m exhausted. The strange thing is that I perk up at night and then have had a bit of trouble sleeping.

Getting back to the birds, as bad as it was for the kids to take the birds out of the nest, I can understand it. Not just from a curiosity point of view. One of our favourite books used to be The Bird with the Broken Wing by Bob Graham. It is a beautiful book which tells the story of a pigeon which flies into one of those mirrored glass buildings, breaks its wing and falls to the ground. Everyone just walks passed it leaving it for dead until a little boy comes along. He picks the bird up with his mum and they take it home until it gets better and then they return it to the park. It is a beautiful story of hope and recovery, which is why I read it so often to the kids. Mummy could get better too!

WIRES rang me back and were very helpful. Turns out our pigeon isn’t a native after all but she told me how to make a nest out of an ice cream container to get the birds back in the tree. I’m going to put their original nest inside. Apparently, WIRES insurance prevents them from rescuing non-native animals but she said they’re always happy to offer advice. An animal lover is an animal lover, after all…as long as it’s not a pest!

Old nest...new nest

Old nest…new nest

So it’s starting to look like the bird drama is almost over. However, it seems like I’ve pulled a calf muscle climbing up the ladder. I know I’m not super human but sometimes I forget.

I’ll be watching those kids like a hawk this afternoon. Those little birds really are simply irresistible and I know that even though they’ve been told to stay away, they will be doing their utmost to have “a peek”.

As night falls, we have decided that our birds are actually Peaceful Doves and not pigeons after all.

If you enjoyed this bird story, you might enjoy a very different bird story about when a bird flew inside our house and became stuck. I totally freaked out!! https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/you-can-count-on-me-when-a-bird-flew-into-my-house-4/

By the way, I thought you might be interested to know what else the kids were up to on our sick day…making volcanoes on the back deck. I am starting to wonder how Mrs Einstein coped with an inquiring mind…

Making volcanoes using bi-carb and vinegar and my very special vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster bowl

Making volcanoes using bi-carb and vinegar and my very special vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster bowl.

xx Rowena

You Can Count on Me…when a bird flew into my house.

And within myself I’ve heard
day and night
in the company of countless birds
a homeless bird speeding through light and dark
from one unknown shore to yet another.
On cosmic wings a refrain echoes through space:
‘Not here, no, but somewhere, somewhere else!’

TagoreHomeless Bird

“Mummy! Mummy! Come quickly!” Mister pleads skidding into the kitchen a mini-cyclone of raw energy. His arms and legs are flapping all over the place and he is either about to take flight or fall over both feet.

Something has captured his attention. That’s hardly unusual and I barely look up from my breakfast. Mister is an excitable, enthusiastic seven year old boy. He is always running or rushing somewhere.  Usually, he’s chasing lizards and he is pretty good at catching them too. They’re then shut into old Chinese containers and taken off to school for news and hopefully released. At the moment, he is madly pursuing White Cabbage Butterflies, chasing them all around the garden with his butterfly net. I reach out and try to stop him but the juggernaut just ploughs on and now I’m just trying to keep him away from the road. He doesn’t seem to care where he’s going.

Mister is still in his pyjamas even though he knows full well that he has to get dressed before he can play. He is also barefoot, even though he knows he’s not allowed outside without his shoes on. The back lawn is carpeted with jacaranda flowers at the moment no doubt buzzing with bees. He could get stung but possibilities and warnings won’t stop him. The  juggernaut will have to learn the hard way.

I suppose I should be putting something into time out but that hasn’t crossed my mind. I haven’t woken up yet.

It’s Monday morning and I’m slumped over the table like a sack of old potatoes. My Weetbix is stone cold and hardly inspirational and would really make great cement. My coffee, which is never strong enough, hasn’t percolated through yet.

“Mummy’s lost in space again,” Miss giggles. She’s about to shine a torch in my eyes… “Mummy! Mummy!”… No response. “Time of death…”

I don’t know where I am. I’m not up in space as in watching stars and planets or anywhere beyond the sky. It’s difficult to explain but I am somehow lost in the space just beyond my nose.

More coffee required.

“Mummy!” Mister repeats emphatically. He grabs hold of my arm and tugs hard almost jolting me out of my chair. “Mummy! Come on!” There is a real urgency in his voice…  a desperation. He is puffing, short of breath. However, he is just a little prone to exaggeration and I’m not quite sure whether I really need to move or not.

“Mummy! There’s a bird in the house and it’s stuck. Mummy, we’ve got to save it! Come on!”

Miss is dust.  She’s off to help… any excuse not to eat her breakfast!

Meanwhile, I am still motionless. Frozen to my seat, I can’t move.

“There is a bird in the house,” I gasp!

I can feel its wings flapping all around me… flapping in my face, in my eyes…. flapping, flapping, flapping. I can hear the bird from here. Its wings are beating against the glass desperately flapping, trying to get out. I have no compassion or empathy whatsoever for the poor stricken bird who can’t understand why it can’t fly through the glass. Instead, I feel like I’m about to die any minute myself if that damn bird doesn’t get out of my house! My entire body has turned to jelly wibbley wobbilly jelly with no spine whatsoever.

“Mummy! Come on!” I’m sure it’s only been a couple of seconds but for the kids, it’s the usually eternity and Mister is particularly persistent.

“Hurry up, Mummy! The bird is going to die!” He shrieks.

Miss joins in. “Mummy! Come on! We’ve got to save the bird!” she pleads in her wee, irresistible voice. Her big blue eyes are swelling with tears and her whole body is starting to quiver.  “It’s going to die!”She is now quite overwrought.

“Shit!” I think to myself. “Shit! Shit! Shit!”

“I’ll get it out!” Mister says matter-of-factly, taking matters into his own hands. He marches out the front with this look of focused determination. All of his senses are switched onto red alert. A man of action, he is going to do whatever it takes to save the bird. I mean whatever it takes and that’s what concerns me most. Any boy small enough to still call me Mummy, is usually more dangerous than useful in a crisis.

Mister returns with his stick….a little boy’s solution to almost any crisis. This isn’t good. I picture him poking the poor, exhausted bird with the stick, ever so kindly plunging the stick through its brain.

“I know what to do!” He is so confident and so sure of himself… full of boyish exuberance. He is trying to get the bird to jump onto the stick and use it as a perch but I don’t get it. I’m in too much of a flap myself. I just want the stick out of here before disaster strikes.

I still haven’t actually seen the bird. I can’t look but I can hear it. Feel its distress….the panic. It is absolutely petrified.

Miss grabs my hand and drags me towards the bird. She has such faith in me. I am MM… Mighty Mummy! I can do anything! I am fearless. Unstoppable. Incredible. I can almost leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Her faith is so misguided but how do I explain to her that big people, the people you trust with your very life, are also afraid? I’m supposed to be the strong one, tough, infallible. Do I dare admit that I’m weak too? That my feet are made of clay? Or that Mummy, even Mummy, could indeed be human?

I feel so incredibly small, such a little girl. I wish my dad was here and he could just come and take care of it all. I don’t want to be brave or have a personal growth experience. I just want to disappear. My legs are like jelly and I’m on the brink of collapse.  I am gripped by some very deep, very dark primeval fear. Fear so deep that it wraps its tentacles around me and drags me deep beneath the surface. I’m drowning in the darkness and I can’t breathe. There is no escape.

Things are really heating up around here!

I soon forget all my motivational talks to the kids about overcoming their fears. I forget all about daring Miss to climb to the top of the tower when she was paralysed halfway.  There is just this constant mantra repeating in my head “No! No! No! No! No!” It won’t budge.

But…but…I love birds and all living things. I want to help. I want to be the good Samaritan not the person who looks away, walks past and doesn’t give a damn. I want to make a difference. So many times, I have been the broken bird myself, dependent on someone else to save me and here I am powerless to act. Pathetic!

I take a deep breath and try to change the broken record in my head.

“I think I can. I think I can.” I take another deep breath and picture myself as my Dad grabbing a towel and taking action…  getting the bird out successfully and saving its life. I want to be the life saver, the hero….a winner, not a loser!

“Mister, put the stick down. Kids, please stand back. You need to be really quiet. We don’t want to frighten the bird.” I take a deep breath and muster all my strength and take charge of the situation. I am Dad. I can do it. (Deep breath!)  I grab an old towel and edge my way towards the bird. This is the first time I actually see the bird. It is still flapping it wings impotently and seems quite stuck between the chest of drawers and the glass sliding door. Armed with the towel, I plan to grab the bird and take it outside. It’s such a simple manoeuvre. I’ve seen Dad pull it off a number of times. Nothing to it! I try not to think about the bird wriggling and flapping in my hands… all that squirming. I try not to think of it escaping and flying around the room unable to be caught and flapping all over the place.  I am trying to be so strong and not catastophise this dire situation any further but I don’t like it. I wish Dad was here to take care of it! I feel so small and powerless just like a little girl.

But I have grown up and now I’m the one in charge…

I’m holding the towel. I brace myself and swoop down onto the bird. It resists all my rescue efforts, squarks and plunges from trapped to deeply trapped. It’s now firmly wedged in position and can barely move its wings at all. It twists and contorts its head and I’m concerned it’s going to break its neck and kill itself.

The kids are still hovering beside me. I am trying to keep everybody calm and perfectly still and a good arm’s length away from the bird when the dog barges in and the sliding door almost runs over the bird. The dog was the last distraction I needed. Being a sheep dog, it’s not his fault he’s been genetically pre-programmed to chase and kill but I don’t need him on the rampage right now!

I shut the dog out.

I tell the children to stand back.

Mummy is in charge…heaven help the poor bird. It doesn’t stand a chance.

I am thinking…thinking…!

I am thinking about all my ideas about community… people being there and supporting each other. So often I am the one being rescued and just this once I’d like to help! I feel this huge enormous inner tension like two armies running towards each other locked in heavy combat… love versus fear. I absolutely believe in caring for one’s fellow man, even if it is a bird. I love and often quote that phrase about how it takes a community to raise a child. Everybody has to do their bit. This is my bit. My challenge. My hurdle but I just can’t do it. I feel myself stretched and torn. Stretched and torn. If I do nothing, the bird is probably going to die.

It’s quite ironic. We have a worm farm and I’m doing my best to save the Earth and yet I can’t even save a bird just because it flaps! This isn’t what I stand for. It’s not what I’m about. I’m a rescuer…the ambulance driver…not a murderer! I don’t believe in guns and yet my neglect…it’s pulling the bloody trigger.

Despite my best intentions, however, I’m getting nowhere. Time to call in for reinforcements. There are times when it’s okay for even the most independent and strong-minded of women to admit she actually needs a man. Not that I’m fussy. It doesn’t have to be a man.  I just need someone, anyone, with just a little more courage than myself and is old enough to use it wisely.

I try to reach my husband, Geoff on the mobile. But it just goes through to voicemail. The train would have to be going through a tunnel right when we need him!

Then, I remember my friend Bill. He’s a single Dad and just lives a block or so away. Bill is always offering to help but I like to save these offers for the “Big Emergency”. I decided this was it. I needed help. I mention calling Bill to the kids and while I’m looking for his number Mister already has him on the phone. Bill must feel like he’s entered the twilight zone with Mister talking about the bird stuck in the house. It’s barely after 8 o’clock and if his son isn’t over, I’m sure he’s asleep. I try to grab the phone. Mister keeps talking. I finally manage to snatch it away.

“Bill!”I plead. “Help!”

Bill apologises profusely but his son his sick. He can’t leave the house.

Bill then asks me what type of bird it was. I’m not sure. I‘ve been trying not to look at it.  But there was definitely some yellow on its face and I suggest it’s a Noisy Minor. Bill wasn’t exactly encouraging: “There are way too many of those damn things already. You should just squash it. Do the world a favour.”

I wasn’t a fan of Noisy Minors either but I couldn’t just let it die! A bird is a bird…a life… something so precious … even if it is a pest.

Bill doesn’t come to the rescue.

I wonder whether WIRES would save a Noisy Minor or whether they just saved native birds.

Mister suggests the vet.

I just see dollar signs and try to think of something else.

That’s when I notice the clock. I’d forgotten all about getting the kids to school.

The bird drama has totally sabotaged our entire morning “routine”. My friend is due to pick up the kids in five minutes. Mister is still in his pyjamas. Miss has barely touched her breakfast and I need to make the lunches.

“Mister you need to get dressed. You have two minutes”.

I quickly throw their lunches together totally unable to think about anything except the bird. I am now less sympathetic. Pissed off that the bird had to have its crisis in my house not somewhere out in the bush where I didn’t have to get involved.

I rebuke myself. This is what community involvement is all about. It isn’t always convenient or comfortable.  You get intrusions. Have to go out of your way. Step beyond your comfort zone.

All these ideals are quite beyond me at the moment. I’d much rather be alone on a deserted island – especially an island without any birds as much as I love them from a distance!

My friend pulls up to take the kids to school. She sits so calmly in her four-wheel drive…such a picture of serenity while Mister’s still running all over the place trying to save the bird. He clearly doesn’t want to leave before the crisis has been resolved. I push him into the car and close the door. Shame he wasn’t just a little bit older. He would have saved the bird by now and spared me all this angst!

I know my friend has her own dramas but I can’t help feeling that our dramas are of quite a different magnitude.

Last week, while the dog was chasing his tennis ball, he actually managed to get his head stuck in between the back steps. It was wedged in with barely a centimetre free and he was banging and bashing his head around trying to get it out with brute force. This time, I managed stay quite calm and collected and actually managed to be useful. I reassured the dog, amidst all the kids’ screams and tears, and managed to get his head out the same way it went in.  A few weeks ago, Miss had managed to get her skinny little arm stuck in the huge glass sliding doors at the RSL club. That was after an “All You Can Eat” lunch and she was still wafer thin afterwards, squeezing into the smallest of gaps she should never have fitted into.

The bird fits in well here. It doesn’t just fly into the house and do circuits round the room like a normal bird. Oh no! It had come in here and get stuck. Do something different just like everybody else! Amen!

Weird stuff always happens to us.

My mother always says we were born under an unlucky star.

I just think we come from a different planet.

I wave goodbye to the kids and the car takes off.

Now, it’s just me and the bird… and the dog!

Responsibility….so far I’ve just blamed myself for this mess but what about the bird? Did I invite the bird inside? Is it my fault? Oh no! Of course not! The bird got itself into this mess. It had nothing to do with me. If this had happened somewhere out there in the bush, the bird would have had to save itself. Save itself… or die! Perhaps, I should just ignore it.

But I just can’t turn my back. I am the Good Samaritan. I will not walk past. But I can’t move either. My fear is so intense that I can’t even step inside the room anymore. I am so afraid. I can hear the poor bird flapping….still flapping! I tell myself it could be one of the kids but it’s useless. My kids don’t have wings.  They don’t flap. I’d be happy to save them.

I think about helping people. I think about how much I love birds. I think about how I’ve longed to be a bird flying through the sky and experiencing the exhilaration of flight. Not this bird feeling trapped, tortured and so afraid.

The bird is still fighting. Its will to live is so strong, all-consuming. It will not give up! I glance at it again. So twisted, in such agony!  I can’t bring myself to look anymore.

I try once again to reach my husband on the mobile. He’s on the train and must almost be at work by now. He’s too far away to come home but he’s a great problem-solver. He’d know what to do.

Once again the phone goes through to voicemail.

I am on my own.

I am now starting to think that the bird will just have to die in there. I tried. There’s nothing more I could do.  Yet, the prospect of having a dead bird in the house doesn’t thrill me either. I hate dead things. I remember when my goldfish died as a kid. Dad had to fish it out and bury it. I couldn’t even look at it.

I haven’t got any better. It’s not that I’m unfeeling or insensitive. More the opposite. I’m completely overwrought.

But somehow, I couldn’t just give up on the bird either. I didn’t want the bird to die. I didn’t want to be the one who had turned her back too gutless to act. I didn’t want to let my fear, my silly, petty fear cost the bird its life. I didn’t think about its family or friends and how they would feel if the bird never came home but I should have.

I couldn’t give up. I had to find someone. Anyone!

That’s when George, my neighbour across the road, pottered outside to water his plants. He had no idea what he was stepping into. I didn’t give him a chance to say no. George was the man… the rescuer…the knight in shining armour.  He had to act whether he liked it or not. Now, the bird’s fate rested on his mighty shoulders and I was off the hook!

George wasn’t bothered by the bird. However, however, there was the matter of my dog…

Bilbo who normally lounges round the house like a somnolent floor rug, hates George. He just needs to open his front door all the way across the street, for Bilbo to go ballistic barking furiously and gnashing his teeth. I don’t know what goes through Bilbo’s head but he definitely has it in for George and George has every reason to be “afraid” of the dog.

George gingerly inched his way inside while Bilbo was still locked out and the bird remained trapped.

George very logically points out that we can’t get the bird out while with the door shut. I should have thought of that myself but I’m not good with practicalities! He tells me to take Bilbo through to the front of the house and to shut him out there and then we open the back door. Good thinking 99!

Strangely, Bilbo didn’t bark at the bird and he didn’t bark at George either. Instead, he dropped his ball at the back door hoping George will throw it for him. I admire his optimism. Bilbo never gives up!

The bird is looking better now and has almost managed to free itself. I can now see that it’s some sort of Honey-Eater, not a Noisy Minor after all. However, this new found identity doesn’t change how I feel about the bird. I am still petrified and I’m still trying to save its life.

We open the sliding door in anticipation and I hand George the towel. Instead of grabbing the bird, the bird flies off. Instead of doing the logical thing and flying outside, it starts flying around the room…round and around and around in a mad flapping frenzy. I am going absolutely out of my mind!

It was bad enough when the bird was stuck in but free-range is so much worse. I’m suddenly having flashbacks. I’m in famous Dam Square in Amsterdam being dive bombed by swarms of pigeons. Yes, I know I bought the pigeon food and I fed them but I was so unprepared for the aftermath… all those flapping wings descending on me… squadron after squadron. In a scene straight out of Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic:  The Birds, I could barely move let alone breathe.

This one bird has now multiplied into something quite beyond description but I’m not catastrophising at all. This is a complete catastrophy!

The bird, who I forget is probably more terrified than I and also rather exhausted after its ordeal, flies into my laundry basket. I am excited. Jubilant! The end is finally in site.  Now, we just need to throw the towel over the basket and take it outside… Simple Simon.

But George has other ideas. He encourages the bird to fly outside unaided. After all it does have wings. It can actually save itself now.

At last, the bird flies straight out the door and is gone!

Gone! Problem solved.

But I wasn’t so sure. Was it really okay? It had been fighting for its life for over an hour. Did it need help or was it okay flying back outside into the wild?

I didn’t find out. I didn’t want to find its tiny body lying in the grass. The bird just had to be fine.

I’m still in shock… emotionally crippled, shattered, barely standing up at all. The terror is still stuck to me like a second skin, a parasite, it’s roots penetrating deep into my being. I can’t just pry it off and return to any state approaching “normal”. It takes a good hour before I can go anywhere near the crime scene again.

Instead, I return to the safety of the kitchen and make myself a good cup of tea – Twinings English Breakfast in my Royal Albert Old Country Roses tea cup. I also grab a Tim Tam …. my solution to just about any crisis!

Geoff finally checks his voicemail and calls back.

“You should have shut the blinds,” He says. “Opened the door and just let it find its own way out,” he says. “Imagine how you’d feel with this great big beast hovering over the top of you?!! It was probably trying to get away from YOU!”

I laughed. I actually managed to laugh. “I’d never thought of that. I was too busy trying to save it!”

Soon, my mind starts drifting out the window again. A light breeze is dancing through the Jacaranda tree. Its purple flowers nod up and down, falling like snow and carpeting the ground underneath. I smile. The white butterflies are now fluttering around the garden in peace – without a little boy and his butterfly net chasing them out of existence! They’re looking for somewhere to lay their eggs…  no doubt, someone’s much-prized veggie patch. Just what some poor green thumb needs… more very hungry little caterpillars!

Such is life…