‘Our backyard buddy and the little bit of wilderness it brings to our home’

Jun 03, 2020
Mr Peewee. Source: Getty Images

Out of the corner of my eye I see a flutter of black and white wings. Mr Peewee is back for us, a late afternoon inspection.

He seems to regard our courtyard on the fifth floor of a 20-storey apartment block as his own, part of his daily routine. He checks for spiders and other small insects, and then for berries that have dropped from the Cotoneaster bushes.

He was so excited when the window cleaning was done, he brought his mate and the pair of them enjoyed fossicking around. What they could find was too small for me to see.

Mr Peewee seems to think the outdoor dining table is his own personal runway and he enjoys flying from the table to the wall, the wall to the opposite wall, back to the table, up to the magnolia trees and back down to the table. He will then strut along it and glide down to the tiles.

As he pokes around, he is startled. Lurking within the large green glossy pot is an intruder. After his food, or a rival for his mate? With a run and ferocious flutter, he attacks again and again. The intruder attacks in return. Then the light changes and the intruder is gone.

Mr Peewee particularly likes it if I have watered as there are puddles to potter in. I do not feed him as he is a wild bird and comes and goes.

In the morning, well before I’m out of bed, he will glide in to do a quick morning inspection. Given the morning light the intruder is not usually there so there is less to do.

Where does he go in the day? Groups of peewees are seen in the very wide strip in the middle of a main Canberra thoroughfare at the bottom of the apartment block. This was so dry in the summer that it was like crossing a desert.

Since the rain, and hail, the grass has returned and the birds are back pecking away despite traffic either side. After the hailstorm, it was a relief when Mr Peewee returned. We had found a duck down by the lake killed by the hail, and peewees are a lot smaller.

His most likely hideout is the local park. It has wisteria vines, rose bushes and trees. And lots of grass. There is shade, resting places and food.

As I write it’s late afternoon, so I should be seeing that flutter of wings very soon.

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