Lockdown Lunchtimes.

With the imminent lifting of the Sydney COVID Lockdown, we take a look back at some visitors to the backyard over the last few months. I would set up my home office each day on the back deck, and around the middle of the day I would take a short break to eat lunch, and to photograph the birds that occasionally shared mealtime with me.

The Rainbow Lorikeets were always happy to share my apple:

A Currawong once tried the apple too, but wanted it takeaway:

Of course, regular visitor Lefty the Magpie (see “Lefty” – Sep 1 2021) often came around on the scrounge food – bread or chicken or cheese.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos would also come around if we put a seed-block out:

The pair of Butcher-birds (see “Backyard Butchers” Aug 31 2021) would also take the opportunity if there was ever any dropped food.

Two cats are having a temporary stay with us, and one of them flatly refuses to eat indoors. Because of that, there is often beef, kangaroo, chicken or salmon in the cat bowls on the back deck, as well as special biscuits.
We realise it is bad for birdlife to be fed too much processed meat – it can lead to calcium and other mineral deficiencies, which can compromise eggshell strength and bone density of chicks. We would not ever deliberately feed birds the food we feed the cats, but as we use raw meats that contain ground bone and offal, and biscuits that enhanced “science diet” – we hope that as long as they are stealing it in small enough quantities, it’s OK for them.

I filled a meat-encrusted cat bowl with water in order to soak: Lefty found this meat-flavoured water an interesting drop.

But it wasn’t always dropped cheese and cat meat. Sometimes they lunched on their natural diet.

And finally, in a tree in our neighbour’s yard overlooking ours, a King Parrot had a big lunch of fruit. (Apologies – I do not know what sort of tree this is).



Now that the Lockdown weather has started to warm a little, Brad sets up his work-from-home office on the back deck, with a camera always nearby. Looking out over one’s backyard for eight or nine hours a day is a good way to keep tabs on the local wildlife (and a good way to take many, many more photos than could ever be necessary!)

Arriving one morning as though she had owned the backyard for some time, and showing very little trepidation around humans, this Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen) has become a regular visitor. The easily accessible cat-food may be a factor.

Because her left wing seems to droop, we called her Lefty. An injury? Something she was born with? Impossible to say. While it does not seem to affect her flight in anyway, perhaps learning to live with the injury has made her less timid and willing to risk approaching humans.

Australian Magpies are not related to true magpies (i.e. they are not Corvidae), and are more closely related to the Butcherbird.
They can be difficult to sex, especially the most common Sydney sub-species. The adult females are said to have a greyish tinge to the hindneck feathers, whereas the males’ hindnecks are a crisper white. We pretty immediately started calling Lefty “her”.

Lefty, while brave and comfortable around us, is no Penguin Bloom (the famous Magpie that so befriended a family that they made a movie about it). So far Lefty has not looked like letting us touch her, or sit on our heads, but she does approach quite closely, routinely eating cat-biscuits out of a bowl only a metre away from where I sit working. (More on her love of cat-food in another post).

A black-and-white bird this handsome looks just as handsome in black-and-white:

Here’s hoping Lefty hangs around for a lot longer…


Fight! Fight! Fight!

Inter-species altercations at the local park.

These Galahs were quietly grazing., under the watchful gaze of their alpha-male:

A youthful Magpie wanted to search for food in the same patch:

Tensions escalated:

The face-off got serious as the combatants rounded on each other, sizing each other up…

Then it was ON!

The Magpie’s mates watched on, but didn’t weigh in…

The pair then took it in turns to adopt a “running-away” strategy…

Later, in the carpark….