Thursday, 29 September 2011

Nasty Foreigners

There is an avenue of oak trees that leads from my house up through the park to the local shops. Each year, the trees produce an almost absurd amount of acorns:

I used to wonder why nature was so profligate. But then one day I walked up to buy the paper and saw the ground under the trees covered with cockatoos.

Someone at the Sydney Morning Herald took this absolutely brilliant picture. It captures the essence of cockatoo, I think.

They were using their claws to pick up the acorns, which they shoved into their beaks and ate, all the time rolling their eyes at anyone approaching. As I drew nearer, their bright yellow crests all began flattening and rising, flattening and popping up again, like some kind of clown's apparatus. Finally, when I got too close, they rose in a shrieking mob, scattering acorns as they flapped away.

There are people in Canberra who object to introduced species like the oak tree. Although the cockatoos clearly love the food the trees produce and by being distracted by acorns are prevented from doing the kinds of thing they're being accused of in Sydney -

- these people argue that our area's delicate eco-machinery has been disturbed and, despite the cockatoos' pleasure - and the pleasant shade the trees provide in summer - they should never have been planted. Of course, if you follow that argument to its logical conclusion, this whole city should really be swept away.


  1. On ya, cockies! Love the description of the crests rising and falling.

  2. Shriek, shriek, as they would almost certainly say.

  3. Yes, what a delightful picture. The oak tree is hardly the cane toad, or indeed the rabbit. Seems to me that good people of Canberra need to lighten up a bit.

  4. (Come on, isn't anybody - preferably female - going to do a 'yes, I've also seen a cockatoo' joke??)

  5. I love cockatoos - naughty destructive fiends that they are!

    PS: I work in Potts Point and they're all over my building

  6. It's not just Canberra, Gadjo - there's a whole 'native only' push in lots of parts of the country(I think I read that they have a similar thing in California [we probably picked it up from there])
    Nurse, they are wanton. I don't want them to go away but I wish they'd shut up. Sometimes when they tear through the air above our garden, ripping bits off trees as they go, I think they are the animal world equivalent of gangs of hooligans. They might have enjoyed the London Riots.

  7. Washington, DC, has groups that favor native plants also. The only disfavored one I can think of at the moment is the Norway maple, but I know that there are quite a few, and that you wouldn't have to look far to find persons to urge you to plant natives rather than exotics.

    We are having (again) quite a year for acorns here, with the squirrels as the main consumers. Didn't yours mostly rain down six months ago, though?