In January 1999 we saw a strikingly different and rather wonderful new bird on our bird feeders. It was pigeon sized, however had a very outstanding spikey top-knot, very much as the best endeavours of “Trafalgar Square Hippies” who must spend hours trying to get that upright, pointed hairdo erupting from the middle of their scalp.
The wings had two metallic green and purple patches that glowed as the bird turned in the sun. Altogether a very beautiful, different and very exotic looking creature. We looked it up and it was a Crested Pigeon (ocyphaps lophotes), and is distributed over most of Australia except in the top-end and in the Eastern region down from Sydney and also missing in Eastern Victoria and Tasmania.
A very short time later we saw its mate and both stayed around the Adobe Flats for the occasional feed.
January 2000 saw four of the strikingly handsome birds and for the last 6 weeks we have 6 regular visitors. They seem to prefer a dead wattle as their look-out. Now we assume that they have extended their range into the cooler parts of Australia. WELCOME TO MALLACOOTA!!
But I am not sure if we should be so thrilled to see these birds here, as it could be an indication of a warming climate. (Don’t visit the tropics, let the tropics visit you).
In the last few years White Headed Pigeons (columba leucomela) and Common Koels (cudynamys scolopacea) have also extended their range down from their normal cold-climate border post of Sydney, and have been occasionally sighted by us. Signs of global warming and maybe the beginning of the laying down of new deposits of coal for future inhabitants should the temperature keep climbing AND we leave the forests alone.
However, having pigeons increasing and conquering new territories gladdens my heart as I often lament that most nations have aggressive eagles, lions, bears, tigers and even mythological griffins in their heraldic coat of arms. Maybe it is time that we are ashamed of our pride to be aggressive and warlike and at least here in Mallacoota embrace the Crested Pigeons (we nicknamed them Spikeys) as our emblem!!??
Published in the Mallacoota Mouth
9 June 2000