Friday, September 17, 2010


When was the last time you saw a wild cockatoo flying freely in the sky? To many Australians, this is an everyday occurrence, much like seeing a crow fly to an American. Rather "ho-hum" wouldn't you say? Let's face it, the only way we Americans see cockatoos is either in a zoo, or caged up as someone's pet bird. Never do we see them flying...wings spread magnificently in the air.

On my last trip to Australia, back in December, we drove the highway from Adelaide to Sydney for New Year's Eve. On the way, we stopped at a little town...just a little blip on the map...but a very significant spot to Aussies. We stopped at Gundagai...well, 9 miles from Gundagai, (pronounced "goon-duh-gye".) An historical monument and tourist center was built there to celebrate the deep history of the early pioneers and a poem that they recited over the decades. Australian children read it in primary school; often referred to as the "Dog on a Tucker Box" (a "tucker box" is a lunchbox.) (for the poem, see: )

It was there that I had my first encounter with cockatoos in the wild; hundreds of them filling the trees! We had stepped into the park surrounding the "Dog on a Tucker Box" monument when I heard the sounds of many birds...all hanging out together and chatting like a large gathering of ladies at a Mary Kay convention! They had their yellow cheeks like perfectly placed blush and their eyes outlined in black as though put there by Mary Kay herself! They were strutting their stuff with plumes stretched-out like they were showing off their latest hairdo. It was quite the spectacle!
I was literally awestruck as my eyes took in their beauty. It was though I had stepped into a fairy tale that had actually come true! I felt like a little girl who just met the real Cinderella at Disneyland! I had this dumb smile on my face like a Cheshire cat and walked around with my face pointed to the sky saying "ooh" and "ahh" as though I was watching fireworks on the 4th of July! Rather silly, huh? This may sound ignorant, but I never realized that cockatoos flew around wild. Well, it's not that I didn't realize's just that I had never thought about it before. Of course, they have to be wild! I mean...they have to come from somewhere, right?

Up until that point, my only close encounter with a cockatoo was at my mother's house! She had a pet cockatoo named Tuts, (she inherited him when a friend passed away.) He was a sweet bird to look at, but definitely had a mean side to him. If you stood too close to his cage he would bite at you like you were today's lunch! Mom always knew how to deal with him; she could feed him and tend to his very large cage the size of an apartment! (Well...maybe not quite that big!) but anyone else was considered a potential meal! Let's just say I kept my kids very far away from his cage!

Every now and then, Tuts would start strutting his stuff with his white feathers glistening like John Travolta on the dance floor in his white disco suit! He could be quite entertaining with his head bopping up-and-down, until that is...he started his vocalizations of "Stayin' Alive!" Have you ever heard a cockatoo squawk in a small contained space like a living room? It's enough to leave your ears ringing and you begging to hear your teenager's loud rock music blasting on the stereo speakers for some peace and quiet!

Poor Tuts. I guess he was meant to be in the wild along with the thousands of cockatoos that fill the Australian skies.  
...He could have used his disco moves to pick up chicks!


  1. gun-da-guy is more a way to say Gundagai (well tis how i have always heard it said).
    cockies and also galahs (pink and grey cockies) are lovely..but bloody noisy buggers...
    always interesting to watch though hehehe
    glad you are enjoying these new marvels...
    i personally would love to see more Eagles flying.. seen a few hawks around the place but usually when i am in someone's car and cant stop and watch them.