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Not this turkey for Christmas Dinner.

Updated on September 24, 2010
One of my butcherbird friends caught in the rain.
One of my butcherbird friends caught in the rain.

Not this turkery for dinner - Chapter 2

This morning it is raining - so Baldy came very early looking a bit damp.  I told her that she was too early but she looked at me with her head on the side, as if to say "Come on, I've got all these kids to feed" - so I relented.

And soon there were many birds - even some fo the grey butcher birds that I had not seen for quite a few days.  Are they babies?  They look marginally smaller than Baldy and her friends.

Then two regal magpies arrived.  They are bullies - though the butcher birds do not seem to be bothered, even when one of the maggies pushes in and flies past with a tasty morsel that was destined for a butcher bird's beak. 

It was quite a feeding frenzy with about 6 of the birds.  My mince packed was empty so I showed them the evidence and left.

I was standing at the kitchen window when there was a bang.  A miner bird had crashed into the window.  It recovered from it's shock after falling to the ground and flew away seemingly OK.  I saw the 'silouette" of the bird on the window thanks to the wet feathers - I tried to take a photograph of the wet bird outline, but it did not show up on camera.

Not this turkey for dinner - Chapter 1

I am house sitting in the suburb of Paddington, Brisbane Australia. If you’ve read any of my other Hubs, you’ll realise that I have been an English teaching in China. It so happened when I was there last semester, a colleague I had taught with in Brisbane expressed an interest in going to China.

Therefore, she is now there, and I am house sitting – in her house in the inner western suburb. It is a trendy place, and quite attractive with its many old style wooden houses, built on the steep slopes of Paddington.

I need to have some mountain goat qualities to climb the hills that ascend from the house – I’ve done it but found it exhausting. Incredibly steep and somewhat scary. What if I fall?

The house is traditional old style, and most comfortable, surrounded by a huge variety of trees and shrubs. If I look out of the window in any direction, I see the many trees that seem to hide the houses that in reality are not far away. It is like a little green haven.

As you can imagine this is a place that has plentiful wildlife. At night an army of possums dance in the moonlight on the roof of the house, and I am told eat many of the flowers and plants in the garden. Perhaps a possum party – and they are not always popular. Noisy blighters but they are protected.

However, it is the population of birds that I enjoy.

The most noisy and colourful of new my feathered friends are the lorikeets. There is a nest of them nearby and I can hear the high-pitched squeak of the baby birds. They come in groups looking for food at the house. My friend had been feeding them, but their numbers have increased and the resultant piles of poo that appear on the deck have caused her to choose to discourage them. No food is available to the lorikeets at the moment, but they come and visit. I watched them recently during rain as they sheltered under the awning. They were wet and bedraggled, but they silently waited for the rain to stop.

One day I found two of them sitting on the windowsill tapping on the glass with their beaks. I think they were demanding food, but they were disappointed.

Another noisy population are the miner birds. They don’t seem to come for food but spend hours darting in and out of the garden picking up insects. There are many of them here, and I can sit and watch them but do not need to worry about feeding them.

The miner birds love a bath and I can sit and watch as they dive into the fishpond which is about 6 feet across - flap across the surface and then fly out and land on a near by bush and flutter their wings. Sometimes they will dive in several times, and often there are two or more having a bath at the same time.

I love it when the magpies come – graceful black and white birds, and the largest of the birds that come for food. They can be a bit intimidating, but by and large, they wait patiently for me to put a piece of mincemeat on the railing, and politely pick it up in their huge beak before flying away.

My favourites are the butcherbirds, similar colouring to the magpies, but with shorter legs and not so regal. Some have more grey feathers along with the black and white. I don’t know how many come for food, but they are amusing and have insatiable appetites.

There is one, and I call her “Baldy.” I am sure it is a female, but I may be wrong. I have the sense that she has a nest of babies as she comes often and usually takes a mouthful of mince, and flies off in the direction of a high gum tree. I cannot see the top of the tree, but suspect it is the home of her nest.

Baldy has a sense of humour. She sits on the railing and must eyeball me. If I move, and she loses eye contact, she will move, even tilting her head on the side to get a better look at me. There are sometimes as many as six butcherbirds who line up for food, and would probably take food from my hand, but they have an awesome hook on the end of their beak so I feel safer not encouraging this.

There are kookaburras – but I have only heard them high in the trees. They do apparently visit, and I’m warned will fly in the door if it is open.

Then there are the turkeys. Bush turkeys. Or scrub or brush turkeys. There are many in the western suburbs of Brisbane, and apparently they live in groups and there is clearly a group living nearby. They are rather shy birds but every day I can see one or two – usually rushing out of the undergrowth to another patch of bushes.

Brush turkeys live in groups with one dominant male, some young guys and a harem of females, which nest together and around this time of year (September) can produce up to 50 eggs, so perhaps the population will increase dramatically around here in the next few weeks. The eggs were popular fare for our indigenous people, but I’ve not found a lot of information about the birds as a food source, though I am sure the indigenous peoples did eat them.

I was amused to read on an online forum, from someone who had eaten a bush turkey and thought it was good, and made a suggestion that we find someone to breed them so we could eat them for Christmas dinner, and have a truly Australian festive meal.

However, it is illegal to kill them, so I guess there’ll be no brush turkey on the menu this Christmas.


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    • Aussieteacher profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

      Thank you for your two comments. Thank you.

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 

      8 years ago from South Wales

      So good I did it twice

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 

      8 years ago from South Wales

      Thanks for the wonderful insight into your bird population.I envy you the peace and calm.


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