04 December 2012

a few more birds, natures bounty

Seen recently in various locations about the lake.
Egret, looking very special on the day
 
crested pigeon flew up into the tree; it'd been resting-up with ducks on the foreshore.


Sitting where the tide had gone out,  There were ten all up; Mum, Dad and eight young ones
 
almost all of them, the male was with another two a short distance away
 
hadn't expected to see this young elkorn/staghorn, high up on the tree trunk.  It's hardly a rain-forest pocket, but more a bushland environment where it was growing.
 
 and a couple more of them
 
arboreal termites (a.k.a. white-ants in Australia) nest
 
kookaburras often will use the termite nests for their own nesting site
 
white-faced grey heron

 superb fairy wren
 
dancing this way, and that..

and back again, with the long-shot, egret.

Did you know that the egrets plumes were much sought after in the 1800's for womens decorative finery? I came across a sad account in the pages of An Australian Bird Book, written by John Leach, published 1911.  He was a founder to the Gould League of Bird Lovers in 1909.  I was a Gould League member in my primary school years, when for a small fee we'd receive in return, a treasured enamelled (bird) badge to wear.  If I remember rightly, there was a new one issued each year. 
 
Here is the author's account:
 
Now come those beautiful birds, the Egrets. Man's cupidity and selfishness, and woman's desire for ornament, seem to have doomed these birds to total extermination, for the plume trade, which is responsible for some of the "most abominable cruelty practised in the animal world," is a war of extermination. Egrets are shy, and are approachable only in the breeding season. At that time they are, in obedience to parental instincts, brave in defence of their young. It is just then that the plume-hunters visit the rookeries and shoot the parents, leaving the helpless, almost fully-fledged, young to die in the nest, so high overhead. And all for what? Could anyone who has seen the devastated nests, with the famished bodies of the fledglings rotting in the sun, ever take pleasure in Egret plumes decking the head of a sister or wife? Women of refinement and tender heart will refuse to wear the proceeds of human cruelty. Those engaged in the trade resort to the mean trick of calling the plumes "Osprey plumes." Now, the Osprey is a Fish-Hawk, and so possibly of little use to the land-dweller, but these plumes grow on the back and neck of a valuable insect destroyer. The extent of this trade is appalling. At one plume sale, held in London on 4th August, 1909, the breeding plumes of 24,000 birds were offered for sale. Think of it! The slow starvation of 40,000 nestlings, the death of 64,000 birds, to provide the plumes for one day's sale. No, ladies, if you consider you are in need of ornament, wear ostrich plumes and pheasants' feathers, for these do not involve the death of a bird, but rather the reverse, for the greater the demand for these feathers, the more birds will be bred; but spare the Egret.
 
Spare the egret indeed!  Wondering now, how and when, this atrocity was abolished.

Later Update:  Thanks to Maggie who wrote me the following exerpt:
The Plumage Act entered the Statute Book a year later in 1921. A bill ”to prohibit the sale, hire, or exchange of the plumage and skins of certain wild birds”, The Plumage Act was celebrated as the factor that brought an end to the “Age of Extermination”. How much this change was due to the effects of the Acts’ hunting and trade regulations or that a growing inclination toward promoting humanitarian ideals reduced the allure of feathered garb is not clear. What is clear is that dwindling feather sales had as much to do, if not more, with changes in the everyday lives of women which simply eliminated opportunities to wear oversized, constraining hats.

The full story is here.

23 comments:

Dianne said...

Wonderful captures of that elegant Egret .... spare the Egret indeed!! I think women have come a long way ... we no longer tolerate cruelty to animals just for the sake of ornamentation.

Shaun Gibbs said...

Forget the Egrets.. that tree termite mound is awesome. lol
Lovely photos Carole
Shaun

TexWisGirl said...

yes, i did know that history of the egret plumes.

you got some great shots! the fairy wren is adorable. the kookaburra is so cool. and so is that termite nest!

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Great assortment and the Fairy Wren is my favorite. So stunning. Would love to see that white ant colony.

Red Nomad OZ said...

How barbaric!! But ironic that it was all in the name of civilisation!! Great egret shots - I believe those are called the 'nuptial plumes'??

Digi-Irma said...

Great pictures Carole, many birds you have photographed, do not come here for.
Have a nice week, Irma

Montanagirl said...

Absolutely beautiful photos and post. Love that Egret. I had never heard that story - so sad. Glad that no longer happens...at least I'm hoping it doesn't!

einfachtilda said...

Wieder mal wundervolle Naturfotos von dir.

LG Mathilda ♥

Roy Norris said...

That is a great shot of the Egret Carole.

Anonymous said...

The insatiable greed of mankind never ceases to amaze me. Such beautiful birds -
Burtine

Seraphina´s Phantasie said...

Amazing photos of the different birds and the dugs. I hope, you could find anything about Steven N. Meyers and his photography. Best regards, Synnöve

Frann said...

I read that our (USA) National Audubon Society was founded to fight the use of feathers from wild birds in adorning women's hats. I think it was in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Sounds like the egret story.

Jan Castle said...

Beautiful pics Carole...especially the egrets!
Paper Hugs,
Jan

Stewart M said...

Nice set of pictures - I saw wood duck and crested pigeon on my walk home form work today (but no fish!)

thanks for the comments.

Stewart M - Melbourne

Brian King said...

Fantastic! Love the egret and heron! Among my favorite birds. The kookaburra is so cool! Love their bills. I've seen termite mounds in pictures, but never a nest on a tree like that.

diane b said...

Fabulous photos of our birds. I love the blue wren. Interesting story about the plumes and women/
.
.

Judy said...

Love that close-up of the egret! But the staghorn ferns fascinate me! And the size of that termite nest!!!

Kerri said...

Oh those birds ..... so much beauty!!

Deanna said...

These are wonderful captures of such interesting birds...ones that I certainly never see on my side of the world. Thank you so much for sharing and also the story of the egrets plummage....what women won't do for fashion. So glad that has been outlawed.

Flo de Sendai said...

Love your bird photos, so beautiful !

mick said...

Sorry I missed this post - all very nice photos and the info re the history of plumes from egrets is very interesting.

Sharyl said...

Love the reflective beauty of the white-faced grey heron! And the super-spunky attitude of that little superb fairy wren!

Liz said...

More wonderful captures, Carole!!
And I remember the Gould League. I too was a member in mid primary and early secondary school. I loved those badges and all the birding info. I'll have to Google if it still exists.