Our feathered family

Peter Leith is 90 and has a largish extended family. He says staying in touch with them can be a bit hit and miss but he is greeted every day by some very devoted, very needy friends.


Between the two of us we have six children, five in-laws and 13 grandchildren. One of them we see most weeks. Of the others, four, including the first one mentioned, we hear from two or three times a week, by phone. With the others we have a one-way communication by email and Facebook.

We are not complaining because we know that we are not ‘orphans’. Most of our elderly friends and neighbours live in a similar ‘family-free’ world.

What we do have, apart from our two dogs, is a host of avian relatives. It started with the crested pigeons and the ibis. Most people shun ibis, because they are scavengers. People consider them dirty. We respect and admire their stately elegance and capacity to clean up as they go along.

Then came the butcher birds and the ‘standover merchants’, the magpies. Once or twice a day, we hand feed up to eight magpies at a time with mince from the butcher.

The drought and bushfires have brought us corellas, yellow-crested cockatoos and galahs – in droves!

We get through more than 14lbs (about 6.5kgs) of wild bird seed a week and are thinking of applying for one of these sports grants that were being given away so freely … although we do live in a Labor-held electorate!

Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to [email protected] and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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Written by Peter Leith


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