Little corella: Cacatua sanguinea

Little corellas are ubiquitous birds we simply take for granted. They have greatly extended their range (the long-billed corella has not fared so well). Much maligned, especially where they have invaded suburbia, they are highly intelligent, exist in close knit, co-operative flocks and pair for life . During Covid-19 I have greatly enjoyed stories of wildlife reclaiming human territory all over the world – from the goats of Llandudno to the cougars in Santiago. Who knows, Covid-19 could have been a corella plot…

So many of you hated us, mocked us, shot us. Now we rule your universe, gathering more and more of you to our flock as every day passes. The baleful blue-ringed eye, the stubby crest, the hooked beak with the flash of pink above – now you regard your newly won avian features with pride. You preen in your mirrors, you shuffle on your perches, you flock at sunset, joyously squawking the miracle of your survival.

How you have suffered to become like us. First the coughing, fighting for air, clawing at the sheets. That gave you your dexterous claws, viewed with horror by the operatives in their PPE. Hastily banned to secret wards no-one could visit, coughing then destroyed your voices. As a consequence, gone were your dissembling words, no more lies and spin. You no longer needed lips to speak so they keratinised, becoming hooked beaks, perfect for digging roots and bulbs. As you lay dying, the chosen amongst you were visited by one of our viral ambassadors, conferring upon you wings and the power of flight. You revelled in the power of that first joyous flight from the hospital window, thermals holding you up, marvelling at the power in your muscled breast and flight feathers.

Who were the chosen ones? Those of you that saw us for our worth, as part of the bigger picture. You recognised our intelligence, our charm, our ability to live a co-operative life and our faithful, life-long partnerships. We had observed for years how humans were losing those attributes.

Like you humans, we too loved to travel long distances, but we weren’t always welcomed on arrival. In your eyes, we made a mess, we defecated, we stripped trees. For years we had watched you in the desert, doing the same. However, you had the power to develop management strategies, moving us on with lights, clappers and worse – poisons and guns.

But we wanted to escape the desert heat and fly to the coast, before the reef bleached, the oil companies took over and the sand scoured away. We wanted to see the forests that fringed the turquoise ocean before they burned. So we launched our viral plan.

A year it has been now. Our numbers grow exponentially. The air is clear, the streets are empty, the humans that survive live quietly, simply. They take delight in the important things and see nature all around.

– Sue Aldred

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