No Night Sweats N o  N i g h t  S w e a t s No Night Sweats
Sydney's Post-Punk Bands
I Like Music
Slapp Happy are Terrific
A List of CDs
Text is What I Write
Crime Fiction is Silly
[ Big, White Birdies ]
Sulphur crested cockatoos are, for those who haven't boned up on their ornithology, big, white birdies with a shock of yellow on their scalp. This is deftly camouflaged by a white scull cap until those times when they emit their normal sound : a sound that is not unlike a massive train derailment. Only the black cockatoo - who, for all intent and purposes, are the white ones on mega-steroids - have a worse sounding call but, 'luckily', they're rare and endangered and so they visit us but once in a blue moon. 

Now, I love the sulphur crested cockatoo : They look like they can take care of themselves in a dark alley - except that with all those white feathers they'd stand out too much; They seem to travel in packs, like the local teenage boys whom they defecate on; They always look at me (and anyone else for that matter) with a stare that even Dirty Harry would admire and, whenever I least expect it, they'll suddenly appear nearby and let off a screech that frightens me out of my skin. 

I know them so well because they have waged a guerilla war against me for the past 8 years. In the past I have simply given in but this year it's different. Yes, they're still certain to win but I'm fighting back, now - and it feels good. The reason for the assaults is quite simple - we have an enormous liquid amber tree in our back yard that fruits every year with approximately 20,000 spiky conkers (this is just an estimate, mind you, as I have yet to become so anal as to clamber up the tree and count them). Each of these holds approximately 30 separate seed areas of which the sulphur created are more than a little fond. So, of course, every day a massive flock of big, white birdies curls out of the sky with a screeching and a wailing and a hooping and a hollering - that I absolutely adore - and settle down on the branches of our 40 year old tree for a nice, quiet nosh. Unfortunately, they're not the most cultured of eaters and so they tend to drop an enormous amount of seeds, seed pods, partially devoured conkers, whole conkers that their claws haven't managed to quite catch hold of, bits of bark (just 'cause they feel like a change in diet), small ripped branches (just 'cause they wanna) and, ahem, poo onto the ground below. 

Also, unfortunately, this just happens to be the nicest place in the back yard to sit out of the sun and have a quiet nosh ourselves. So we made it all spectacularly lovely with new paving, retaining walls that look like sandstone and soft leaf buffalo grass...ahhhh, the peace and serenity of it all. Until the big, white birdies detritus starts falling on top of you, that is. So now, I fight back by chucking rocks and bits of wood into the branches - just to frighten, definitely not to hurt. But all this throwing makes absolutely no difference whatsoever - they still keep coming back (the food IS free and abundant) and I still love them. 

One added bonus has been that I now find a kind of solace in the creation of a shiny, wet, clean path. And we all need something like that, I suppose.
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