On Friday afternoon I was sitting in my customary spot on the couch doing a bit of
aimless blog surfing research and was disturbed by a familiar noise…. oooooom…
In the years we have lived here in the valley we have amassed quite a large family of Bronzewing pigeons. When we first moved in there were very few of them and they were extremely wary of people. If they were in the garden and saw you moving in the house there would be an explosion of noise and what appeared to be a short-legged drab chicken would whirr into the air and disappear amazingly quickly.
These mainly nondescript pigeons have a very unexpected call, they make a very deep OOOOOM…… OOOOOM…. It is astounding that such a bird can make this large noise. Before we insulated our corrugated metal roof, the birds would perch up on the peak and their calls would echo loudly through the entire house. On a clear, still day, their calls can be heard for an amazingly long distance.
Actually, it took us a while to work out what was making the noise! They were so shy that they were rarely seen, and only called when safely hidden away.
They sound horribly similar to an excited cow, a noise we often hear coming from the nearby paddocks, and to hear that call coming from right nearby made us wonder what kind of creature was hiding in the bushes! To this day we still call them the Moo birds.
As you can see by the 1898 newspaper article they were heavily hunted and I can see why. They are quite plump and if you were out looking for food for the family one would make a good meal. They are quite silly too. It they stay still they are almost invisible, but as soon as they notice a threat they leap into the air without a single ounce of grace and whirr away. If you were a good shot you wouldn’t have to even try to look for them, you would just be able to stomp around and a target would present itself fairly quickly.
Over the years we have given these nervous ground dwellers more cover and their numbers have grown from one or two to about twenty. They still run for their lives if you disturb them but now they are slow to get out of the way of the car (which can be quite annoying if I am in a hurry) and can tolerate you being on the other side of a window. Although they are mostly a fairly dull brown colour they have the most amazing iridescent patches on their wings, hence the bronzewing part of their name. If these feathers catch the sunlight they are absolutely beautiful.
At the foot of the Steps of Death, and directly outside my large front window, there is a short, paved path leading to where I park my car. It is lined on both sides with lavender hedges and at certain times of the year becomes the bower for a series of very amusing pairings.
A male Bronzewing will start strutting his stuff up and down the path and repeatedly oooom with amusing wiggles, dances and head bobs. Almost immediately the females will come running along the road (not flying, just running) and whoever dashes down the path first gets her man. A very quick courtship ensues with more head bobbing and wiggling and chest puffing before the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it coupling. It ends with a thank you dance from the male and the completely disinterested female walks off leaving him looking a little embarassed to have made such a fuss.
Remember, all this happens right outside the loungeroom window!* The kids find the dancing of the male endlessly amusing and occasionally we will be ready to leave for school and end up waiting at the front door for the ooooming to stop so we can leave without disturbing them.
When I was disturbed by this bird ooooming outside the window on Friday I had just downloaded my camera so it was on the seat next to me. That means I managed to do this whole post, photo and all, without having to leave my seat. That is my kind of blogging!
* I did a post the other day with a photo of rosellas taken through the kitchen window which sparked a discussion on clean windows, or the lack thereof. Just so you know, my loungeroom windows are no cleaner than those in the kitchen so this time I can lay all the credit for a clear picture on a good camera and an appropriate depth of field…. NOT my housework ;)