Fly-Off Shenanigans!
Friday 9th October 2009
Fly-Off Shenanigans!

Yesterday was an extremely windy day for us at the zoo, with gusts up to 60 km/hr! On days like these we modify our show as some birds struggle in those winds, but even those that have proved themselves before can find it a bit tough.

At our midday show we flew our six Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos, but yesterday we only had three come back … three!

It does make for exciting times and very quick thinking. This calls for us to start systematically checking the Zoo, and if unsuccessful, the streets of Mosman. It must look quite peculiar to Mosman residents who are unaware of what we’re doing. Some of us have cars but if you’re me, generally you’re the runner.

Our parrots don’t have tracking equipment like our raptors so we have to rely on their calls to know if we are getting close. With strong winds that’s a challenge!

Other Zookeepers radio us if they see them and that’s how we found our first explorer, Ngetali, at 1pm. He was sitting above the giraffes in a tree and when he calmed down from the excitement, he flew straight to one of his trainers. Positive reinforcement and training to develop a bond with the birds works wonders!

The next was Diyara who we found in Mosman resident’s front yard at 2pm. It took about an hour for her to fly down, but just like Ngetali she flew right to us.

When we were with Diyara we could hear our final Red-Tail in the distance, but with the strong winds he was moving further away fast. We searched but eventually the calls stopped, our feet ached and it was night. When night-time falls we call off our search for the day as he’ll roost in a tree … hopefully nearby! Then we start the search at dawn when he’s active again.

At this point as a trainer your heart sinks. So much time goes into training our birds and you become quite close.

This morning we were all up at 5am to continue the search. We got ourselves ready, packed our vans and headed out. At this point the slightest call will arouse your hopes and your mind can start to play tricks on you. 6:45am still nothing, 6:46am … nothing, 6:47am a call! Don’t get your hopes up. 6:48am more calls! Louder calls! By 6:50am we had found Korridge-Cup sitting in a tree and very excited to see us. We walked out and he came down in minutes. We had recovered all our birds!

I had such a high when he came down!

After all that we placed him back in his travel pack to take him back to join up with all the other Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos at the Bird Show.