28 September 2019

46. The Rose Hillers

Nearly 200 years ago, an early English settler saw colourful birds near Sydney in a little place called Rose Hill. He called the birds with black, white, navy, green, yellow, red and royal blue feathers a ‘Rose Hiller’, and it stuck. Aussies love dropping the H and shortening names; after a bit the bird became the Rosella.
Eighty years ago, this Eastern Rosella was so well-loved our most popular biscuits had a picture of one on its tin lid.
Quirky birds like most parrots, they tilt their head sideways to look at you. Rosellas get a kick out of hanging upside-down by one claw or  dive-bombing pet dogs to see them react. In captivity they can learn to talk, but I’d prefer to see them free roaming.
A breeding pair of Rosellas, the female drinking has duller plumage than the male standing on the rim.

 
Rosellas are friendly, usually in family groups of 5 to 8 birds. They are up early for drinks and drink again late before roosting. 

 



When it’s hot, Rosellas chatter in the treetops. Like some families they’re all chirping at once, making erratic music over the top of each other.
 



If you walk under their lunchtime resting spots, Rosellas drop stuff on your head, stripping leaves off the trees. It’s a joke, but that’s the sort of bird they are, laughing and having a lend of you as well.
This Rosella woke me before 6am; the sun has just risen but lies low, showering the bird in bright daylight.
I have laryngitis so went out to the patio to take in some sun and watch birds bathe. It’s all good until the wind picks up. 

Fourteen km winds turn into 35 km gusts which blow the hat off my head. The birds can flap all they like but end up pushed backwards in the sky. 


 

Larger birds fly into the headwinds. Eagles, Falcons, Kestrels and Kites embrace the fierce weather. Their wings are out-stretched, rocking slightly while sitting in the air. It is stunning to watch them hunt this way. I guess the raptors have learned to go with the wind flow.
 
Though most birds are safe undercover, one beautiful Rose Hiller sits in the gum next to our house. He preens his plumes for half an hour. The wind blows the boughs, his feathers are ruffled. 

 

Too late for escape, he stays put, contorting his head into strange shapes to reach the pesky mites that annoy him. 
I get a rare chance for a photo-shoot.
 


Dust gets in my eyes, while I watch the strange parrot become a fluff-ball with a tail.




 
As I head inside the wind-blown Rosella makes a dash for it as well. Diving down, it flaps hard before swooping up and soaring along. Scalloping across the lawn in a constant flap and glide motion, it searches for better cover.
These Rosy films make me feel drunk to watch. I don’t know how the bird stayed on the branch, especially resting on one leg, but it did. 
I’m pleased about that. 
I have to watch that hovering leg again. 
Love to see a Rosella preening feathers in the wind.

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