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Posts Tagged ‘Colorful birds’

NSW-_Sydney_Harbour-Opera-House

It’s hard to believe, but I have been living in Australia for a little over 2 years now. Where has all the time gone? It has taken some work, but I do believe I am finally getting the hang of living here.

Father knows best

In my opinion , Oz is a lot like America in the 1950’s, only tech savvy.  It’s a much slower pace most of the time, everyone is very friendly, and you can take most people at their word. The Aussie motto is “No worries Mate”, and they mean it. When I first got here, even though it is a different country, for me there was only a little culture shock.  Thanks to the fact that Australia is an English-speaking country (for the most part) and the fact that we get a lot of American TV here, Oz is a lot like the States.  Most Aussies could understand me, I just had to work on understanding what they were saying. Besides the Aussie accent, they do have their own lingo here that was rather confusing to me, until Gene, my own private personal interpreter, would translate.

Denero

The first time I heard that a man was “nursing” a child, I thought for sure Aussie men were very different from regular men.  I wanted to see this special male breastfeed a baby.  As it turned out, in Oz, to be “nursing” someone means you are taking care of them.

nappy

baby

Since we are on the topic of babies, a nappy is a diaper, not a short amount of sleep, and asking a baby about his/her dummy is not a question about their intellect, but instead a discussion about their pacifier.

parramatta club

If we are going to a hotel, in most cases that means we are going to a pub to drink, but it can also mean a place we could get a room for the night.  A “club” is not only for dancing, like it is in the States, but instead it is the Aussie version of a VFW hall, only a whole lot better.

slot machine

They always have a café, and most have “poker machines”, or “pokies”, which are what Americans call slot machines. I am not really a fan of these clubs, but Gene really loves them. You can get a really cheap meal, but in my opinion, all the food in all the clubs are all the same.

WildLife Place 021

Since my move here, we have had only one visitor from the States, and that was my BFF Mary, from Detroit.  In her infinite wisdom, she summed up Oz in one word.  Adequate. This is the perfect word to describe Australia.  I am not saying that being adequate is a bad thing.  Aussies get just what they need, and usually no more.  That is one reason we go food shopping 3 to 4 times a week. Why buy extra when you can make another trip to the store and get it fresh?

Unit sweet Unit

Unit sweet Unit

A lot of things are much smaller than I was used to.  Take housing.  This is a photo of our “unit”, or townhouse. There are a lot of “units” (or apartments, condos, or townhouses) everywhere, and they keep building more.  There are single family homes, but the majority of them are what we in America would call small.  Like us, it is very common to have only a one car garage, (not a 1 ½ car) even if you are a two car family.  I just want to know where they keep all their stuff.  One of Gene’s sisters’ lives in what I call an “American” house. For Aussie standards, it is large, with big front and back yards. I say it is just about right.

macca's sign

Their serving size are also much smaller here.  A large drink at “Macca’s” (pronounced mack-ers) would be considered a small in America.

Roundabout

I had to get use to everyone driving on the wrong side of the road, and all the roundabouts.  It is very strange to sit in the front seat of a car on the left side, and not have a steering wheel in front of me.  I have driven a little here, and I am not a fan of how narrow most of the lanes are. Again, the adequate thing. I keep saying I just need to get out there and practice, but for once in my life, I am enjoying having my own personal chauffeur. I just can’t get Gene to wear the little hat that goes with the uniform.

Taco-Bell-logo

 

When I’m asked what I miss most about the US, my first answer is always Taco Bell. Yeah, I know.  It should be family and friends, which I do miss, but I also miss the fact that I can’t just go through the drive thru any time of the day or night to get one of my favorite foods.  I have reserved myself to the fact that Oz is not a place for Mexican food, so I make it at home when I get a craving to make a run for the border.  I do Skype with my family and friends, so in some cases, I talk to them more now than I did when I lived there.

tomato sauce

 

Oz tom sauce

Another thing I miss is being able to find certain things in the stores.  One example is tomato sauce.  To an Aussie, tomato sauce is ketchup, and American tomato sauce does not exist in Oz. To compromise, I’ve learned to substitute tomato puree instead.

I also miss the fact that not every store gives you a bag for your purchases.

powerpoint

One thing that I will never understand, is their electrical outlets, or what they call power points.  For some reason they turn off the power points when they are not in use.  I am assuming that Aussies think the power may leak out when they are not looking, so they turn them off.

T2 006

They have wonderful tea shops that I frequent quite a bit, and my tea collection has grown to 60+ teas.  Aussies still look at me funny when I tell them my drink of choice is Ice tea, but I am hopeful that one day they will realize that they there are other ways to have your tea besides white (with milk) or  black (no milk).

rainbow lor.

Cockie & bridge

 

I also love the fact that there are beautiful animals here.  There are all kinds of birds all over the place, and my favorites are the rainbow lorikeets, and the cockatoos.

All dressed up for that night out!

All dressed up for that night out!

I also love the fact that fairy penguins also call Oz home.  They are the closest thing to a munchkin here, so they fit right in.

Koala Park 17

One of the things I really enjoy doing is going to some of the wildlife parks, and have lunch with some of my truly Aussie friends.  That’s something I never got to do in America.

winter car

Some things I don’t miss are having to be at work, and bad weather. Sydney has pretty mild weather, and never gets snow, so that makes me a VERY happy camper.  When I moved here, I was thrown into an early retirement, because I was not allowed to work.

bulgarian-womenknitting

Now I spend my days doing what I want to do, and not what a boss thinks I should do.  I like this way much better. Here’s a photo of me and the girls at one of the knitting groups I belong to.

bus

ferry

Nice weather makes taking public transport not seem like a bad thing.  Instead of driving a car, I do take the buses and ferries to get where I’m going, and I also do my fair share of walking. I guess now that I have the time, I don’t mind leaving the car at home.  That would have never happened back in the States.  That, or living in a house without a heating system.  Even when I lived in Las Vegas, smack dab in the middle of a desert, we had a furnace, and we used it.  Here, we don’t have one…  Yet.

Fiji 169

I gave Gene one winter to see if I could handle it being cold in the house, and the answer is no.  So to put off getting a heating system this year, Gene is taking me on trips while it’s winter here. I must admit I like his way of thinking.

I have gotten use to this lifestyle, and I will be the first to admit, I am really enjoying it here.  It is a slower pace, everyone is laid back, and it is a very peaceful place to live.  I do miss America at times, but that’s what the airlines are for. For now I plan on staying here as long as possible, and enjoying my new life.  Gene and I do love to have visitors use our guest room, so if you are so inclined, feel free to plan a trip down under. We would love to show you around all the places that are on my “What to show visitors” list.  And if you’re lucky, my truly Aussie friends or our munchkins will fit you into their busy schedules.

cool-roo.jpg

No worries Mate

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One thing you can say about Aussies is that when they have something no other country has, they will make sure the rest of the world can experience it up close and personal. They have some animals that are only found here, so they make sure the general public can see them.  I am of course talking about kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas. Even though you might go to see these original Aussies, there are many different animals to discover.  Like larger cities in the  US,  Sydney has a regular zoo right in town.  It’s the  Taronga zoo, and it has everything you might expect in a zoo.

They have mountain goats

Assorted reptiles, with some being quite small,

And others being quite large.

Koalas, the king of cuddles,

Gentle giraffes,

 

And of course, everyone’s favorite, kangaroos. Kangaroos are bigger than wallabies (which look like small kangaroos), and from what I’ve heard, you don’t want to get too close to a full size roo. They can really take care of themselves, and would have no problem winning in a street fight.

They will want to check you out, but since there is a fence between you and them, it’s ok to stare right back at them.

It’s a very nice zoo, but one thing that puts this zoo on the map is the great view it has of Sydney. Where else can you see roos, koalas, the Opera House, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge all in the same place?

The zoo is very nice, but if you really want to get up close and personal with the animals, you need to go to one of the wildlife parks that are in the area.  There is one in Darling Harbour called “Wild Life Sydney.”  They say it’s “The Australian animal adventure in the heart of the city.”  Seeing how I had never been to this animal adventure before, when Mary, my best friend,  was here visiting, I decided to take her there.  It is right on the harbour, and I was not expecting to be impressed at all.  Boy, was I wrong.  Once you go through those doors, you would swear that you were nowhere near the middle of Sydney. Most of the time you are indoors, looking at the animals that are in outdoor areas. It also has different areas like the rain forest, desert, and outback.

They had a butterfly house that you could go into, and many of them would put on a show, and some brave ones would even land on you. This was one section

where  everyone,even kids were very quiet.

Naturally, they had koalas.

They have a HUGE crock, but he didn’t seem to care about the crowds one bit.

There were all kinds of birds all over the place, and most of them were flying free.

Some were  walking  around right where we were walking.

Some even look at you the way you look at them.

Now of course they had some really huge birds, but they were behind glass, and for very good reason…

They have a cassowary, which is the world’s most dangerous bird. It is the 3rd largest bird in the world, but can, and will attack and kill at a moment’s notice.

I don’t know what this little wallaby did, but he was in the same area as the cassowary, and he doesn’t look too thrilled to be there.

Even though the cassowary has very pretty colors on it’s head, Mary didn’t care for that bird. She did like it’s cousin, the emu though.

Seeing how this attraction is geared towards teaching, it was nice to see that the animals got into the spirit of things, and  tried to bring culture to the masses anyway they could.

This is Whistler’s mother’s Aussie style.  It’s called “Whistler’s Mum.”

Now, even though this animal adventure was pretty impressive, in my opinion there are other wildlife parks that give you a more involved chance to see the animals.

Out in the suburbs of Sydney, there are two different parks that are on my “Where to take visitors” list. They are Koala Park, and Featherdale Wildlife Sanctuary. Now THESE are wildlife parks!  This is where you can have lunch with some of the animals, and they don’t mind you touching them.

Like all the other parks, they do have birds, some are  in huge aviaries.

Even these birds will try to entertain you. This is the rainbow lorikeet version of the Rockettes.

This little guy is a Bower bird, and he is very good at mimicking.  The last time I saw him, he put on  quite a show!  He must have been doing a skit about  war, because he had the sounds of machine guns, bombs going off and even a flying helicopter perfectly mastered.  He also made sounds like other birds, cats and dogs. He was brought to this sanctuary because he had a broken bottom beak and can’t make it on the outside. I bet all he needs is a good agent.

Some birds come just for the handouts,

And some wild birds that just come to visit for the day, then go home at night.

Then they have some that came for the day, and decided to just live way up in the trees.they know a good thing when they see it.

Some just need to get away for a while.

And some just come for the water sports.

There are wombats that are usually asleep during the day, but this guy decided to stay up and check out what goes on when the sun is up. Right now he is resting from all the excitement.

This is a real live Tasmanian Devil. They come from the island of Tasmania, which is part of Australia. They are loners, with a really bad attitude, so you don’t want to mess with them.

This is an echidna, and it’s sort of like the Oz version of a porcupine.

This is a real dingo, the Aussie version of a wild dog. Another one you don’t want to mess with.  You’ve heard the saying, “The dingo ate my baby”?  Well, it’s true.

Now of course they have koalas.  As you can see from most of the koalas photos, they sleep a lot.  Like 20 hours a day.

But, at these parks, at certain times of the day, they will wake some of them up, and you can not only have your photo taken with them, but you can pet them also. If you are lucky, they will even smile for the camera. I am stroking this koala while the photo is being taken, and their fur is really soft.

The koalas are cute and cuddly, but the big star of the show are the wallabies.

They take turns as the look out while they are waiting for you.

They are all over the place, just waiting for you to have lunch with them.

They really enjoy having lunch with people,

but they also  enjoy the chat that goes along with the food. Believe it or not, they have come up with a lot of answers to a lot of the world’s problems.  The only problem is they can’t get the politicians to listen to them.

Not only can you feed and pet them, but some of them will put on a show for you.

This guy was really getting into his air guitar.

Like human Aussies, Oz animals are really laid back, and most times  don’t seem to have a care in the world. They just want to make sure you enjoy your visit so you will come back to see them.

They  will even go so far as to  pose with you for photos to put on your blog.  No worries mate.

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This flock of birds is my favorite, so I saved it for last. I will admit that I have only seen fairy penguins in zoos here, but they are wild in the southern parts of Australia.  They are very cute, and make me smile. As for the Lorikeets and the Rosellas, I am sure, when God was creating them, He started with a completely white bird, and then had them fly through a rainbow.   They are absolutely beautiful. The best part is, as with most of the other birds I have written about, they fly wild around here.  All you have to do is look up, and you can see your own private rainbow sitting in a tree or on a fence.

Rosella

(ro sel la)

Crimson Rosella

Eastern Rosella

A Rosella is one of five to eight species of colorful Australian parrots, which are medium-sized, ranging from 10–14.5 inches long. These adorable birds have long tails, and the feathers on their backs show an obvious scalloping appearance with coloring that differs between the species. All species have distinctive cheek patches,

Green Rosella

and males and females generally have similar plumage.

Northern Rosella

They are intelligent creatures, which can be trained to whistle a wide repertoire of tunes

Pale Headed Rosella

and may even learn to speak a few

Western Rosella

words or phrases. As pets, they require a great deal of attention and many toys to satisfy their need for social interaction and mental stimulation, but they make good companion parrots.

Eastern Rosella

Because of their color and their wonderful singing voice, they can be spotted in trees all over the place. It is quite a pretty sight when a flock of Rosellas are spotted going out on their daily outings.

Fairy Penguins

 We have it all here in Oz!  We even have our own happy feet.  These are fairy, blue, or little blue penguins, and are the smallest and cutest breed of penguins. They grow to an average of 13”, and are found on the coastlines of southern Australia, and New Zealand. Like all other penguins, they cannot fly in the air, but instead save that skill for the water, because their wings have developed into flippers to be used for swimming. If they can keep away from predators, they can have a pretty long lifespan.  The average for the species is 6.5 years, but flipper banding experiments show in very exceptional cases up they can live up to 25 years in captivity.  Not bad for 3 squares a day, nice cold bed, and no stress from worrying about being someone’s dinner.  All they have to do is smile pretty for the camera.

All dressed up for that night out!

Little Penguins live year-round in large colonies, with each individual breeding pair forming a burrow in which to raise their chicks (of which two are born at a time, usually about 2 days apart). Like the royal family, one is the heir to the family and the other is the spare, in case anything was to happen to the first chick. The parent penguins typically return to their colonies to feed their chicks at dusk.

A mother's work is never done...

The birds will tend to come ashore in small groups to provide some defense against predators, which might pick off individuals one by one. In Australia, the strongest colonies are usually on cat-free and fox-free islands.

Rainbow Lorikeet

(lor i keet)

  

This is one bird that has earned its name. Rainbow Lorikeets are true parrots, and are of medium size with the length ranging from 10-12 inches. They travel together in pairs and occasionally will respond to the call to fly as a flock.  When that meeting is done, they will then disperse again into pairs. These colorful birds will defend their feeding and nesting areas aggressively, and will chase off not only smaller birds, but also larger and more powerful birds such as the Australian Magpie. Rainbow Lorikeets feed mainly on fruit, pollen and nectar, and possess a tongue adapted especially for their particular diet. The end of the tongue is bristle-tipped for extracting nectar and pollen. They also consume fruits that have already been opened by flying foxes.

As you can see, they deserve their name of Rainbow, and both male and female are all decked out as if they are their own gay pride parade.  They are all over the place, and like most birds here, have a lovely singing voice.  Simon would definitely have them go to the next round.

Now keep in mind, that there are a lot more kinds of birds here than I have just shown you. Sometimes when I am walking outside, I feel like I am walking in a huge aviary in some faraway zoo.  You name the color, and there is a bird that fits that description. If you just sit with your eyes closed and listen, you will hear nature at its finest song. Keep in mind that this is not a special occasional occurrence, but something that happens every day, all day, 365 days a year.  This is Australia.  Maria would love it here because we really do have the sound of music.

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This flock of birds can be pretty social at times.  The Magpie and the Ibis like to spend time on the ground, so it is not uncommon to look down and see  (for a short time) you have a short, feathered walking partner.

The Australian Magpie

The Australian Magpie is a medium-sized black and white bird native to Australia and southern New Guinea. The adult is a fairly robust bird ranging from 14.5–17 inches in length, with distinctive black and white feathers, gold brown eyes and a solid wedge-shaped bluish-white and black bill. The male and female are similar in appearance, and can be distinguished by differences in back markings. With its long legs, this  Magpie walks rather than waddles, or hops and spends a lot of the time on the ground. They look or act nothing like the Heckle and Jeckle we all know and love from our childhoods. They do not sound like Groucho Marx cracking jokes, but instead they are very loud, and like to carry on a conversation with other birds within earshot.

                                               Laughing Kookaburra

                              (kook a bur ah)

 Kookaburras are sort of like the Henny Youngman of the bird world.  They will swoop down and steal food off your plate if you are eating outside, then have the nerve to laugh about it (They sort of sound like monkeys laughing in the jungle). To make matters even worse, they will fly to a safe distance from you, and then start laughing their little birdie heads off. (I swear once I saw them pointing one of their wings at me like a finger while they were laughing at me.  No, Honest.  Would I make that up?) They will be extremely loud so not only will your human neighbors hear what’s going on, but they are loud enough so all the birds in the neighborhood will know that Mr. Youngman has just “gotten” another victim. This of course, will get the rest of the birds to chime in with their opinions, which can make for a very noisy time.

They are a member of the kingfisher family, and are considered a large to very large bird with a total length of 11-17 inches. For being that size,they sure do look more like a 747 coming at you if they spot fish and chips on your plate.

Ibis

(I biss)

According to legend, the Ibis is the last sign of wildlife to take shelter before a hurricane hits and the first to reappear once the storm has passed.  I don’t know if that makes it a bird that is really good at listening to its animal instincts, a bird that is really dumb, or a bird that is into looting. They are usually around water, and feed as a group, probing mud for food items, with tasty crustaceans being the favorite. But then again, they do hang out at the beach with people to beg for food.  They have been known to give the sea gulls a flight for their money in this respect, because they will scare them off if there is food involved. It is quite a show to see the gulls and the Ibis fight over a chip (a french fry). I am quite amazed that the winner usually will bring the chip back to a human and ask for ketchup.

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Seeing how Australia has birds everywhere, I thought I would spend some time explaining some of the ones that are seen flying around Oz.   I went outside and started looking around to compile my list of the birds that would be featured. Turns out there are a lot more than I expected.  So what I have done is taken my list, and like David Letterman, tried to condense it into my favorite top ten.  Well, when it came right down to it, picking only ten turned out to be a problem, so instead of kicking someone out of the nest (so to speak), I decided to settle on twelve.  This way there will be four parts (or as I like to call them, flocks…) to this one blog, with three birds featured in each flock. For those of you reading this in the dead of winter, I hope reading these posts helps remind you that spring will soon be there. Enjoy.

Maria and Austria have nothing on Australia when it comes to the sound of music.  There are so many songbirds here, I am afraid to look up with my mouth open.  They are everywhere, anytime of the day, and in every type of weather.  I have even heard birds talking way after curfew and lights out.  Guess they just didn’t get the memo.  Now these are not just your regular type of birds like those that we have in the States.  Majority of the birds here are very colorful, and for the most part, can give Susan Boyle a good flight for the money.  Many of the types of birds here can be only be seen in cages or in zoos in America, but here, they fly free, and are just part of the wonder we call  Australia.

This “flock” of birds are all part of the same family. They are found all over the place, and like to let their presence be known to all within earshot.  They are very intelligent and social birds, and have been known to enjoy spending time with other birds watching people who are watching them.

Cockatoo

(cock a too)

Cockatoo couple

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Like a lot of the other types of birds here, there are many kinds of Cockatoos here in Oz.  The Sulphur-crested cockatoos are instantly recognized by anyone in Australia.

Short-billed Black Cockatoo

There are so many of them it’s hard not to notice because you can see them flying all over the place.  They are the most common cockatoo, and the one everyone thinks of when they hear the name cockatoo. These birds are large, gorgeous white parrots that have a showy crest on top of their heads, are between 12-24 inches in length, and can weigh in at 2.6 pounds, which makes them larger than most other parrots.

Moluccan Cockatoo

Their everywhere, even by the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and The Opera House

Besides white, they do come in black, light gray, salmon, pink, and an occasional yellow, and often have colored features in the crest, cheeks, or tail. Even though they are monogamous, they will hang out with the rest of the flock, usually when a meeting is called to discuss important cockatoo matters. Most of the time you will hear them coming before you see them, because they are a very vocal bird that has very definite options on every subject known to humankind.   They have daily meetings to air their grievances, usually around 6 am, right outside our open bedroom window.

Male and female black cockatoos

The first time I saw one, I thought it was someone’s pet that had gotten out. After Gene quit laughing, he explained that cockatoos are wild birds in Oz, and boy, was he right. You can see them all over the place.

Yellow Cockatoo

Palm Cockatoo

They are very intelligent birds, and if they are kept as pets, they can be taught to talk like humans, and even do tricks.  On the down side, they have been

known to do a lot of damage to crops and buildings. But then again, when you’re this big, and this pretty, who is going to  complain?

Cockatiel

(cock a tiel)

Male Cockatiel

The cockatiel is the smallest cousin of the cockatoo. They are native to the outback regions of inland Australia, and favor the Australian wetlands, scrub lands, and bush lands. On average, they are about 12 inches (including their lovely tail), and weight in between 2.8 to 4.4 oz.

The males are usually grey with white on their wings, a yellow head, and one big orange circle smack dab on each cheek.  The females are more of a dull grey, but also very pretty.  Besides grey, they also come in all white, with a little bit of yellow on their crest, or they can be a pearl color, which is sort of a swirl of grey and white.

In the States, they are kept as pets, and they can be taught to talk and do tricks.  I even had one for a time, and it had babies that ended up learning  to express themselves. They can be pretty vocal like their cousins the cockatoos, but because of their demure size, it can be a very pleasant experience.

Galah

(ga lah)

Aaah.  A bird by any other name is still a Galah, and this bird should know. Some of the aliases it goes by are Galah, Rose-breasted Cockatoo, Galah Cockatoo, Roseate Cockatoo or Pink and Grey.

This bird is very common, and can be found in open country in almost all parts of mainland Australia. Galahs are about 14 in long and weigh ½ – ¾ of a pound. They have a pale grey to mid-grey back, a pale grey rump, a pink face and chest, and a light pink crest. They can be kept as pets, are very intelligent, trainable, and very affectionate.

One Galah owner has stated that the Galah’s feathers are much softer than most birds, to the point that you don’t really feel the bird at all. She also said that unlike most birds, this is one bird that has a wonderful smell.  She did use the word “delicious” to describe the smell, but not wanting to know the outcome, I never asked what became of the bird.

The term “Galah” is also derogatory Australian slang for ‘fool’ or ‘idiot’, as in “Stop acting like a galah.”  Also, because of the bird’s distinctive bright pink, it is also slang for gaudy dress.

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