Wild Birds Love 'The Big Eye'
The first time a bird sees a camera, he/she may feel a bit unsure of the big thing we place next to our eyes that also makes a clicking sound. But in no time at all, they realise that the sound poses no danger to them. Once they become comfortable with the sound, they feel quite amused by our fondness for pointing this object towards them.
We use a Cannon S5 with a 1.5 teleconverter lens which is a reasonable sized equipment. To the bird it looks like we have added a big round black giant sized eye to our eye.
The birds have no idea what the camera really does for us, but that doesn't stop them from appreciating many things about it, in their classic style of observing our actions.
When we point the 'Big Eye' towards them, they become the centre of attention and it makes them feel special.
We've often found that if we point the camera at one bird and not at the friend, the other bird feels quite hurt at being left out.
When we go for walks, pointing the camera here and there, many birds we don't know, like the galahs and the corellas, but who have been watching from their trees, call out to us and feel really happy of we point the camera at them. One lovely example is the story of the young kookaburra who wanted to be photographed when we went to see Maggie and Vicky's fledgling Josie.
At other times birds come specially to our yard just to be seen with our 'big eye'. One example is the female cuckoo above. Cuckoos are shy birds and this young lady turned up from nowhere one day. We heard a rustle and saw a bird hiding in the mulberry bush. We spoke to her very sweetly and softly and she came out of hiding and let us photograph her for ages. She was thrilled when we aimed the camera at her. The scaly-breasted lorikeets, rosellas and willy wagtails have also visited our yard and called us out so they could pose for the camera. They see the magpies, noisy-miners, butcherbirds and currawongs getting a lot of attention and feel why should they miss out.
Interestingly the tinier birds like the striated pardalotes, thornbills (pic-right) and fairy wrens are not bothered by the clicking of the camera. They have posed for us without any ado and we've had some amazing experiences with them.
There are two interesting incidents with Vicky magpie. Each year at breeding season we make many visits to Vicky's nest and ask her what she's doing. We take our camera with us and take many shots of her nest and her chicks. One year it had rained for many days and we hadn't been able to go over to see her. When the rains stopped briefly, the ground was still too wet for a trek to the bush. But I took the opportunity to photographs some of the plants around the yard. Seeing me with the camera, Vicky flew over to me, sat on the branch overhead and whispered ever so softly. This was most unusual because the place I was standing was not where they normally get fed. Vicky did not usually come to this tree by herself either. Also she was not in the habit of whispering to me. At first I thought she was very hungry. But she didn't take any food. Later I realised that she was trying to tell me to go to her nest with the camera. She had something to show me. I couldn't make the trek, but Ron went as soon as he got home from work. And sure enough he was not disappointed. There in Vicky's nest, two tiny little chicks were sticking their beaks out. These were Mindy and Monty. Vicky knew that we liked to look at her nest with the big eye and she didn't want us to miss this big moment in her life.
Magpies don't normally change their nests, but over the years Vicky (left below with Maggie on the right) has changed her nest many times, each time finding a nesting spot in a better viewing line with our dinette door. The first time she came within view, we pulled out our 4" Newtonian telescope and aimed it at her nest. Watching her chicks stick their beaks above the rim was sheer joy and we could keep an eye on them as they grew. This spot was still not very convenient, as the leafy branches in front of her nest blocked the view quite often and we would have to take the telescope out in the yard to get a clear view. Lo and behold, the following year, Vicky moved her nest yet again to the nest which had a direct and clear line of view to the telescope as it stood in the dinette. A crow had that nest and in fact she struck a deal with the crow to get that nest. The crow now feeds with her at our place in return for the favour.
They know that this gadget matters to us, they know that it helps to see them better. Just this month when two year Frieda magpie moved over to the next hill to join a group of young adults, she saw us with the binoculars trying to trace her path. The next day, seeing us with the gizmo again, she flew high up in the sky so we could follow her silhouette against the blue sky, taking a much longer path that would have required a lot more flying effort from her, descending sharply when she reached her spot on the hill opposite. This way we could see exactly where she now lives. Her normal path would have been to fly through the trees, it would have been much easier for her, but we would have lost sight of her in an instant and not known where she stopped.
The birds take note of what matters to us and they give us their very best with love and understanding.
is available till 30 June as our gift to readers during this 30 day blog challenge. If you have been amazed by my stories so far you are in for an even bigger treat as the stories there are even more wondrous.
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