13.3 C
Byron Shire
October 3, 2022

Will species synchronicity lead to ecological collapse?

Latest News

‘Sad and distressing’: massive numbers of bird deaths in Australian heatwaves reveal a profound loss is looming

Heatwaves linked to climate change have already led to mass deaths of birds and other wildlife around the world. To stem the loss of biodiversity as the climate warms, we need to better understand how birds respond.

Other News

New digs for flood adaptation project

Mullum Cares has a new home in the Railway Shed Yard, on the corner of Prince and Ann Streets in Mullum.

It is a weekend of excitement, fun and laughter for everyone at the National Circus Festival

It truly is like stepping into another world as you enter The Famous Spiegeltent which is here for the National Circus Festival that is taking place this weekend in Mullumbimby before it once again heads off around the world.

Short films grace the screen from Oct 21

The Byron Bay International Film Festival is back from October 21 to 30 with a ten-day program of premieres, panels and parties.

Something for everyone at Byron Theatre in October

Get your pulse pumping at the 2022 Radical Reels Tour on Friday 7 October at 7pm, presented by Adventure...

Bioenergy facility funding rejected

Mayor Michael Lyon is downplaying a funding rejection for Council’s much touted Bioenergy Facility proposal by a federal government agency, claiming other funding sources are available.

Businesses launch campaign against holiday let policy

Businesses who say they would be adversely impacted by Council’s proposal to cap holiday letting to 90 days have gone on the offensive by launching a PR campaign.

Corellas grooming. Photo Mar Gardner.

Story & photo Mary Gardner

‘The birds and I share a natural history. It is a matter of rootedness, of living inside a place for so long that the mind and imagination fuse.’

– Terry Tempest Williams

A pandemonium of parrots describes the scene well. Most afternoons, Little Corellas (Cacatua pastinator sanguinea) fill Memorial Park in Gympie. Some pairs playfully wrestle with each other while others are quietly grooming. All the birds are either cooing, chortling, exclaiming or screeching. Like us people at a market, they are here for while to socialise and eat before flying off to the next stop in their daily round. Aren’t they doing well?

Parrots are often called the primates of the bird world. They are intelligent, playful and determined, grasping and changing their world using their feet and beaks like hands holding scissors. They hold, cut, chop, pull, open and re-arrange things to suit themselves.

Corellas at play. Photo Mar Gardner.

Safety in numbers

All the while, they are in almost constant communication with others in their group. Each bird’s safety truly relies on numbers: predatory birds tend to catch the ones that can be singled out from the group. So chattering is one way to stay in touch.

Another safety measure is what biologist Wayne Potts calls his ‘chorus line hypothesis.’ Like a Ziegfeld chorus girl, every bird is watching a number of other birds. Each uses their social awareness to coordinate their own movements. Just as the women’s synchrony amazes theatre-goers, the collective flock in flight dazzles bird watchers: hawks, falcons as well as humans.

The psychological term for this kind of sociability, this deep penchant and need for relationships, is rootedness. The range of relationships extends to land and water. Corellas, like people, adapt their daily rounds seeking the best available food and drink. The safest sites to preen, play and rest. The most secure and comfortable shelters for sleep and for raising their young.

In spite of the way people clear the land for their own concrete jungles and monoculture farms, Corellas seem to adapt. Even though people appropriate the flow of water and degrade its quality, Corellas manage to find the water they need every day. They seem to fit this altered world.

In decline

Indeed, the size of some flocks today may seem like a plague. But consider that these birds were in decline about 30-40 years ago. The flocks, which range over many kilometres, are still following the changing pattern of available foods. Their numbers boom as people create artificial abundances of food as well as kill off more predatory birds.

More young Corellas mature. The crunch will come when the new generation of birds seek nesting sites. They need secure tree hollows, as scarce as affordable housing for people. They’ll need more food. Then they must factor in global warming. Who knows how the parrots will be able to save themselves?

According to BirdLife’s 2018 report The State of the World’s Birds, many other species of parrot and a total of 40 per cent of all bird species are now in decline. This directly relates not simply to the overall size of the human population but more so to the glaring inequities of our social foundations. As the different species of parrot are finding, there is too much for some, too little for others, and the inequity will ruin it for all.

Our social necessity drives our imagination. Our minds are like members of a chorus line: attentive to and in synchronicity with others. We communicate incessantly, grasping at and relating to the wide world. All this fuses together into our stories of place, of science and art. The best tales will show us how to reshape inequity. The outcome is of special interest to many, including every population of parrot, facing either boom or bust.

Previous articleShark net support drops
Next articleDobb a tosser

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

1 COMMENT

  1. Fascinating carefully considered views, clearly formed from patient real time bird observations. Really enjoyed reading this eloquent piece! Thanks so much! Loved it.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

CWA push for improved maternity services

The W in CWA stands for Women and the CWA have been standing up for women yet again during their recent webinar and annual Awareness Week campaign.

Chris Minns visits Kingscliff to look at floodplain development risks

The potential future risks and costs of flooding to the community and government if approved, but yet to be built, housing is allowed to go ahead in floodplains was under the spotlight last week in Kingscliff.

The Tweed Artisan Food Festival is almost here

The sixth Tweed Artisan Food Festival will be held at the end of the month – the festival runs for 10 days with 20 curated events showcasing the people, the place and the produce of the Tweed.

$30 million Aboriginal Community and Place Grants

Eligible Aboriginal community organisations and groups can apply for funding through the new solutions-focused $30 million Aboriginal Community and Place Grants program.