Our morning’s quiet is broken by a raucous screeching. Outside the window I see a flash of white: the cockatoos are about. They fly between the buildings of our apartment complex as though it were a playground, their calls amplified by all that concrete.
Sometimes when we’re out walking we meet them at ground level, in groups of up to a dozen or more. They are arrayed like freshly-bleached washing blown off a line, landed in verge-side patches of soil, or at the edge of carparks along with discarded shopping trolleys and broken glass. They use their beaks to dig. They pick things up with their feet. They flap and argue over square inches of space, crests at the ready, an assertion of yellow atop a large white body.
The cockatoos that live in our neighbourhood are not afraid of people; at most they respond to our presence by hopping a few feet further away. Neither do they seem bothered by the monumental brutalist architecture that the 1970s bequeathed us. On some whim, one will fly and the rest will follow, wings spread and flapping. They are always bigger than you would expect, and louder. They wheel and call past acres of grey, barrelling over cars and around powerlines. Acrobatic, they hurtle past the sightless windows of government offices.
They have no respect for human places or notions. They will find a tree to roost in and then shred it, raining leaves and twigs down onto passers-by. Their voices are harsh, more squawk than song. Their flight is wild. They are noise in the morning and brightness at dusk.