True love is for the birds
NARRANDERA, NSW EVERY October, the dollar birds descend on our farm in Narrandera in southern NSW and nest in the red river gums beside our house. They migrate from southern Asia to breed in our beautiful rural area and fly back in March with their new family. We have seen them in the same tree for the past three years.
We can hear them in the mornings; it’s a rapid cackle — kzak-kzak-kzak or, sometimes, kak kak kak or even a similar but slightly slower and stronger kzaark.
We strain to see them high up in the branches but they are very elusive. Not so the cockatoos and galahs, who clearly think they own this patch of trees near our house. You can hear their screeching as they fly around being hunted out by the dollar birds.
After the dollar birds have made their nest in a tree hollow, if we are lucky we will see their acrobatic aerial twisting and rolling during courtship flights. We might also glimpse under their pale, green-blue wings patches that resemble their namesake American silver dollars.
In 2012, we duly noted the arrival of the dollar birds; we heard the cranky, relinquishing cockatoos and galahs. We saw a little of a display by the cocky young male visitor, and presumed love had found its way.
However, in February, we had a heat wave that went on for weeks. Later that month we heard a very sad kzakkzak-kzak. It was the male dollar bird calling for his mate. Onit went for days. What had happened to the little family? We had to presume that, very sadly, the mother and babies had expired in the extreme heat in their nest.
By March, the dollar bird had returned to Asia. Having lost his loved one would he want to come back here?
On October 20 last year we woke to the screeching of the cockatoos and galahs, flying about in a frenzy. We dashed outside and then we heard the familiar kzakkzak-kzak.
The dollar bird had returned. Over the next few days he made claim to his hollow in the large red river gum.
In October, we heard his excited cry. Bob, my obsessive bird-watching partner, assured me our little friend had found a new mate.
We took it as a sure sign that indeed life goes on. Love had found its way. Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: travel@ theaustralian.com.au. Columnists receive a kit (total value, $107.85) of OSABrands Universal Travel Adaptor with two USB ports ($44.95), OSABrands Digital Luggage Scales ($32.95) and Tatonka RFID Protected Passport Pouch ($29.95). More: osabrands.com.