Garden visitors #5


A colony of yellow-tailed black cockatoos lives in the hills behind our house. We often hear their high-pitched cries as they soar high above the house, but never before have any stopped in our garden.

Squeals, presumably of delight, attracted us to the Hakea petiolaris which is in flower just now, boasting a decorative covering of pale pink sea-urchin like blooms, and there we saw a pair of cockatoos. But it wasn’t the flowers our visitors were after. They were interested in the bunches of seed pods. Rock-hard pointed capsules enclose two seeds, and it’s a measure of the strength of the birds’ beaks that they were able to open the capsule and extract the seed.

I lurked behind the shutters to take photos, but our visitors didn’t take kindly to my attempt to venture outside to get a better shot and flew away. Hopefully they found their meal in our Hakea to be worth another visit.

It’s very difficult to open these seed capsules.

19 Comments Add yours

  1. Ms. Liz says:

    How neat you have that Hakea in your garden Jane, I love those flowers and it’s fantastic the yellow-tailed black cockatoos think the plant worthy of a visit!

    1. janesmudgeegarden says:

      Yes, we were very excited and felt that having the birds so close was quite an event. The Hakea is a wonderfully reliable tree and honours us with those flowers at this time every year without fail.

  2. All your wildlife and plants are so different from what we see in the states. I am glad you are back blogging, as I love to see what is happening in your part of the world.

    1. janesmudgeegarden says:

      Oh, thank you. I took a break as I felt a bit ‘stale’. I agree, it’s fun to catch up with gardeners from all over.

  3. Heyjude says:

    I have only seen yellow-tailed black cockatoos in the distance, how lovely to get them coming into your garden, although I must say I can’t bear the noise they make!

    1. janesmudgeegarden says:

      Hi Jude, the black cockatoos don’t seem to be as noisy as the white ones which visit here too. We certainly know when they’re around!

      1. Heyjude says:

        My daughter’s neighbour has a sulphur crested cockatoo in a cage in the garden. The noise drives me crazy whenever I visit her, but they don’t even notice it.

  4. hb says:

    We have exotic (South American, I think) parrots living wild here. I wonder if their beaks would be strong enough to crack Hakea shells. I do hope mine blooms someday and gives them an opportunity to try!

  5. janesmudgeegarden says:

    I’m sure your Hakea will bloom hb. I certainly hope so as the flowers are delightful. It’s a very tough plant, able to withstand anything the weather throws at it.

  6. Cathy says:

    How exciting to see the birds up close. Maybe they will be back soon. The seeds must be a delicacy! They don’t look easy to harvest though. Good to see you blogging again Jane. 😃

  7. Kris P says:

    How fun! Now that they know about the seedpods, I bet they’ll be back. I always enjoy it when new visitors stop by (even if they’re pests like the peacock that cruised through a few weeks ago). I envy you the Hakea – I’ve been looking for that plant for years here but that’s one Australian genus that’s hard to come by here.

    1. Jane says:

      You’re right Kris, the cockatoos have returned much to my delight. The seed capsules never seem to drop off the tree, so there are plenty there for them. The Hakea gives us a great deal of pleasure with its spiky flowers. It has grown far more than we ever thought it would, so it must like that position. Fortunately the front garden is on a slope so water drains away easily.

  8. You did well to get that shot, Jane, and the black cockatoos did well to find that banksia. It is very beautiful with its beautiful pink flowers. I hope the blacks visit you again. I’m quite envious.

    1. Jane says:

      The shot is quite fuzzy,Tracy, but it was the best I could do and I was happy to get it. The cockatoos have returned since, so maybe they’ll make it a regular pit stop.

  9. PS. I mean hakea. What was I thinking? Probably I wasn’t thinking.

  10. paolsoren says:

    The Black cockatoos have a definite majesty that is missing from the white ones. But if you give them enough time they can ruin a hakea.

    1. Jane says:

      I agree. And they’ve been back since that post. But never mind, the Hakea needs a prune!

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