Five things I learnt from a squabbling flock of cockatoos

Saturday 26th March 2016

Glen writes……

I left the Dream Machine before sunrise this morning and the little corellas were already awake. Little corellas are a type of cockatoo. We’d seen a flock in the town centre yesterday, circling around and perching on their bedtime tree. This morning their chatter was so loud I thought they had joined us in the campsite. So I walked towards the dawn chorus like a sailor draw to a siren’s song and found myself 200 yards away, back in the town centre.

The cacophony became louder and louder with each step I took towards the high street where it was briefly drowned out by the noise of men’s voices amplified by the awning outside the newsagent, where they gathered for their 6am fix of daily gossip.

I thought about joining the men for a moment, but found myself more easily drawn to the morning gossip of the little corellas. So I perched myself under their tree, where a conveniently covered bench kept me safe from the shit that is an inevitable side effect of any flock of birds—and I meditated on the spirit of the little corellas. Here are five lessons I drew from this experience:


We humans can tend to take morning for granted, even resist or resent it. I don’t know what the little corella’s were saying to each other, but it didn’t sound like “Oh bloody hell, is it morning already? I suppose I better get up and start working through a long list thing of things I don’t really want to do!”

The little corellas reminded me that every day in this magical universe is a blessing and that on Earth, each new morning is a miracle worthy of celebration.


Little corellas are highly social creatures that gather in large flocks to support and protect each other. As humans we also rely on our flock to support us and keep us safe. Most of the time we take this for granted. We may not all commune at the newsagent at 6am every morning, but every day we rely on the support of other humans for essentials we take for granted such as our food, clothes,water, electricity, homes, roads and so on.

The little corellas remind me that my daily existence is supported by other individuals in our global human community, most of whom I will never know. Community is everything and we are nothing without it.


Like all cockatoos, little corellas don’t just squabble, squawk and screech to communicate with each other. They use expressive, bobbing, body language and flick open their feathery crests too. Communication isn’t just about the noises that come our of our mouths. Being a skilled communicator requires us to both express ourselves and listen to others in ways that goes deeper than words.

One of the things that both challenges and excites me most about this trip, is expanding my ability to communicate with Jakkie, so that our needs are met and our dreams fulfilled.


Little corellas are monogamous birds who pair bond for life. I am blessed to have a kind, loving and empowering partner who makes every day richer and happier and I can never honour, cherish and value her enough.


The Cockatoo is a powerful spiritual symbol in Aboriginal Dreaming. According to Donni Hakanson, author of Native Symbols and Oracle of the Dreamtime:

“The white cockatoo has been linked to the first death in one Dreaming. The death spirit, Yowie, takes the first deceased person into the sky in a tree and two white cockatoos follow, squawking angrily as they chase their home. They are the left and right stars in the Southern Cross, the vertical part being the tree.”

I am struck by the symmetry between this ancient Aboriginal symbol of a primordial death, of a spirit in the sky and a cross and the Christian story of Easter. Whether you choose to “believe” these ancient spiritual stories or not they speak of human truths, of death and rebirth and new beginnings.

All of which resonates deeply with our first full day of travel this Easter weekend.

(The cockatoo image is from Jakkie’s Australian Animals range and is available as greeting card at her online shop.)



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