Friday, 31 August 2012

Bombs Away!

For a few days recently it was unsafe to walk under our large Flindersia tree. [There are 14 species in the genus and this one is probably F. bourjotiana]. The pods were being dropped from about 20-30 m height!
Each pod measures about 9.5-10.5 cm in length and covered with stout spines. So being hit by one from such a height would not be a pleasant experience.
 Most of the pods were chewed and partially opened.
 A normal Flindersia pod has 5 star-like arms and a seed in each.
The culprits were masses of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. With an abundance of riches, the birds would feed partially on a pod and then move to the next one. Multiple pods are borne on stems so many are dropped without a beak mark.

Once on the ground, the pods dry out quickly and open within a day or two. That allows birds and ground dwelling mammals to partake of the riches since most of the seeds are still intact within the pods.

At first one might be upset with the seemingly wanton destruction brought on by the feeding birds. But it does have a beneficial effect of providing food to other animals. Some, like the Musky Rat-Kangaroo,  move the seeds away and store them for later use. This disperses the seeds and probably gives rise to new trees well away from the mother-tree.

After about 3 days of concentrated work by hoards of cockatoos, they left and the ground is now littered with the pods that are providing food to other creatures of the forest.

No comments: