For all the Birds

Hamilton Island's Most Wanted

WANTED for theft (Image: Jenni Shah)

I had heard many stories about the wildlife on Hamilton Island before arriving here, in particular the birds. The blue skies of the Whitsunday Islands are shared by large populations of tropical parrots and classic Australian birds (along with thousands of fruit bats).

Mostly I heard stories about cockatoos breaking into rooms and stealing sugar sachets. It’s not just the cockatoos though, the crows will take any opportunity given as I found to my detriment having left a screen door open in the house last week – it helped itself to the fruit bowl and left me to clean up the mess!

One afternoon a group of us were sitting outside at one of the bars when one us bought some hot chips. Before she could sit back down a cockatoo had flown by and snatched a few from the plate. A short while later we saw the same cockatoo sitting on a railing with a chicken drum stick in its claw!

Everyones favourite - the Kookaburra (Photo: Jenni Shah)

Everyones favourite - the Kookaburra (Image: Jenni Shah)

I’m told that kookaburras will scare cockatoos away. So having a friendly kookaburra adopt you is the best natural deterrent you can have I guess (unless he becomes your own personal 4.30am wakeup call)…

There is a sticker on the door of the Hamilton Island Bakery that I love, which says “If Polly wanted a cracker, she would ask for it!” As appealing as the friendly wildlife is, there are real dangers to the birds with their diet being altered by generous benefactors. The birds lose the ability to feed themselves, and become sick on a diet of hot fish and chips and cream donuts. I like that Hamilton Island is making a point of educating people by having signs reminding people of this around the island.

My favourite bird is the hawk that resides at the family holiday favourite Wildlife Hamilton Island, a rescued bird that was unsuccessfully rehabilitated on the mainland and was unable to be released into the wild. His role now is to ride in a buggy on his keepers arm, with his red hood and leash on, to act as a humane bird scarer to chase off the birds from Front Street where they can make a pest of themselves. They make quite a sight as they drive around – the sheriff is in town!