The humble parakeet has transformed the red center into a sea of green and gold.
A massive murmur, the phenomenon of thousands of birds gathering, has invaded the Northern Territory.
Photographer Steve Pearce has captured the natural phenomenon, explaining that the large number of birds causes the air pressure to change.
After a difficult couple of years due to drought and wildfires, some Australian outback bird species are now thriving after an optimistic rainy season.
“You hear a parakeet, that first guy comes in, flies by, then another, then it’s like in a short time, maybe five minutes, they all just show up and start arriving en masse.
“There is a critical mass that is spreading. It is spectacular.”
Pearce said this was the biggest murmur he had ever seen.
“Photos always point only in one direction. It could have been 100,000 of them.
“And it lasted for hours, nobody stopped them. Large groups would come in and have a drink, eat something, fill themselves with seeds, and return for a second drink.
“There were hours and hours of parakeet chaos.”
They were there to eat, drink, and court each other. A Budgie Bush Party: Schools for the Animal Kingdom.
“They are just having fun, a group of kids riding motorcycles in the sky.”
You can feel the air pressure change, he said, as thousands of parakeets swoop in intricate patterns.
A huge ‘woosh’ can be heard over their calls as they dive for water or return, completely in unison.
“The visual is fascinating, you can’t look away, it’s spectacular. It’s a dynamic expression of nature, ”Pearce said.
Such a great show is rare. Nomadic creatures need to drink water on a daily basis, and as the smaller troughs dry out they are forced to flock together. They go where the rain goes, so it never lasts long.
During the previous spring / summer period they had been the perfect conditions for mating.
“The landscape facilitates the explosion,” Pearce said.
“It all came down to the weather conditions, the rain, the availability of food, all of those things that came together to create the perfect breeding environment.”
But the most important aspect of this explosion of life in the Australian outback is the old trees.
“All this birdsong exists because they have gnarled trees around them,” Pearce said.
“Each one needs a hollow tree to nest. Without old trees, trees that have holes, dead branches, the classic red river gum, which takes 100 years, this would not happen.
“Our iconic birds, they need those shitty old trees to nest.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism