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 😉
How fortunate you are. I’ve never seen a Bronzewing Pigeon before. So pretty. We have grey “rats of the sky” pigeons in Sydney & big white noisy pigeons at our house in the country which were apparently a handy wild pantry item locally. Their call sounds like an owl, and I’m often found searching in vain to find only an off-course lone white pigeon, strayed from the usually sizeable flock. Haven’t seen any “in the wild” displays but if one pigeon gets the notion of food, the whole crew will arrive in dribs & drabs until there might be 2 dozen or more, so we don’t encourage them 😉
We are lucky not to have the ravening hordes of pigeons seen elsewhere. I think that these guys are deceptively smart. They nest down low and spend most of their time on the ground, nevertheless their numbers are rising even though they probably look delicious to dogs, cats and foxes. If they were as silly as they act they would have been long gone!
I can imagine that they would be a popular item for an easy meal in hard times. They never look thin or starved, always looking plump and delicious. If you were doing it hard it is no wonder that in some areas their numbers went down dangerously.
I hate it when one creature sounds like another and gets you searching for the much more exciting version only to be disappointed! 🙂
You know Metan I think you should make these ‘couch potato naturalist’ posts a regular feature! I really enjoyed seeing these odd looking birds through your eyes, and the lens of your camera! And I am so very relieved that the quality of your pics is due to technology not good housekeeping :p
I’m glad you like them! Actually I have had a good response from these last few photo posts and it has inspired me to do them more often 🙂 I am never far from my camera, often annoying the family with the ‘get out of my shot…. grumble… grumble….’ 😉
I was pretty happy that the bit of window I was looking through was clear of webs etc, otherwise I might have had to stand up to take the photo, and that would never do!!
They are definitely more attractive than the pigeons of New York City!
They are quite pretty, and if those feathers catch the sunlight they are blindingly shiny. At the rate they are breeding they might end up getting annoying though!
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