My friend Pringle


How a rescued Lorikeet came to influence my garden designs

Growing up on a farm gives you experiences like no other. I was fortunate to grow up with farming parents who were environmentally conscious. My father respected all animals, except foxes and rabbits or anything he considered pest species. 

When my siblings or I started screaming that there was a spider in the house dad would say "Oh, poor incy wincy spider. Don't kill him, he does good. He eats all those pesky bugs and keeps the flies away." To our horror, he would pick it up and put it outside. He would show us the blue tongues and the small skinks on our property. In fact if he found any animal he would bring it to show us and teach us about it.

My Dad instilled in me a love for all animals

My childhood was filled with moments where Dad showed us how much care he has for animals. Often when we were driving along rural roads, we would see a snake that had been run over, and Dad would become furious at the unseen drivers for their lack of respect for the animal. If Dad saw a snake crossing the road, he would always stop beside it and make noises so it would slither back into the protection of the grass and shrubs.

Dad also revegetated the creek that ran through our property with local species. He even germinated the existing indigenous eucalyptus from the 200 year old trees that cover our property, allowing for the trees native to the area to grow once again. And just like that you learn valuable lessons from a young age; respect and passion for the environment around you. 

I have always been fascinated by animals. I believe I have an ability to read them and gain their affection if they think I am worth their time. If I found an injured, orphaned or sick animal I would care for it. And through doing this I have learned all the wonderful personalities each animal has. No matter what type of animal I cared for, their loyalty and trust is shared, in exactly the same way as you receive loyalty from a dog or cat. Which brings me to my story about Pringle.

Rescuing a baby Lorikeet

For someone like me I had the best job. I worked in an aquarium that also specialised in all animal husbandry.

One day a gentleman brought in a little baby bird wrapped in a towel. He had found the injured chick on the ground on his walk in the park. With minimal feathers, it looked like it had fallen from the nest. I realised straight away it was a juvenile Rainbow Lorikeet, native to Australia. 

It wasn't in good shape. Its head was drooping on each attempt to lift it and when birds display this type of weakness it is not a good sign. Birds are very good at masking their illnesses, because if they show weakness in the wild, predators and even fellow friends would prey on them, as this is an easy meal and could also be costly burden to the flock.

This little bird needed hydration and nutrients to survive so I had to give it electrolytes fast. One of my colleagues was drinking a bottle of Gatorade and with no other electrolytes available in the shop I gave a spoonful to the Lorikeet. She drank it without hesitation and within half an hour she was sitting upright and chirping.

Maybe it was my subconscious that thought this little bird looked like a green can of Pringles chips, or whatever it was, this was the first name that popped into my head. So that's how she got her name, Pringle.

Nursing Pringle back to health

For the next 2-3 weeks I fed Pringle on a hand rearing bird formula for Lorikeets. I would feed her 6-8 times through the day and night if she wanted it and she slept with me in my bed. Lucky for me Loris don't poo in their sleeping quarters! Soon enough Pringle had all her adult feathers and I had an amazing little friend. 

Because of Pringle's situation it would have been hard for her to re-join her wild brothers and sisters. It's the same for many wild animals; that's why it is very important to never touch or take any wildlife from their nest, den or burrow. However, in situations where an animal will have no other chance of survival unless taken into care by a human, that would be the right decision for the animal. 

Keeping Pringle as my pet and friend

Pringle is fully socialised with people and I think sometimes she thinks she is a person. Unfortunately wild Lorikeets don't like her and she is wary of them. But she is a wonderful friend and loves all the things Lorikeets do; water and baths, fruit, especially grapes, crazy chatter, chasing after balls and spending time playing in the garden.

Having grown up with a variety of different animals I think it's very important to remember that we share our beautiful earth with them. Pringle isn't contained in a cage and I have made sure that she has a garden to play in. She likes to eat the grevilleas when they're flowering and she loves to eat the mint leaves and climb high up into the pittosporum.

How Pringle influences my garden designs

Lorikeets eat a very different diet from other birds. Lorikeets enjoy the sweet delights of nature and their main diet consists of the sugary nectar and fruits produced by many plants, especially Australian plants. Their feathery tongue gets into many evolutionary adapted plants and the benefit for the plant is pollination and succession of the species.

I have planted many varieties of plants in my garden specifically for her. The plants have brought in wild skinks, different birds, praying mantis, and a wide variety of bugs and pollinating insects, all of which love our garden and enjoy being in it as much as we do.

It is time to make a shift in the way we design, to work with the Earth not against it. We need to work together on all levels, incorporating all the wonderful plants and animals suited to each individual location. Move away from traditionally designing spaces that only cater for humans. Reduce the amount of plants that don't suit our native environments and allow animals to thrive and share their spaces with us. 

As humans and buildings take away natural habitats for animals, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to provide habitats for them in our gardens. By choosing native and local plant species we provide protection and nourishment for local birds, marsupials, skinks, butterflies and other insects.

I like to think that if Pringle were wild she would visit to eat my grevilleas and grapes, climb the pittosporum tree and make all her ridiculous but delightful noises. Pet or not, I would still design my garden to cater for her and for all animals. 

If you would like to meet my friend Pringle (yes, she often comes on site visits with me!) and discuss a garden design that will attract native animals to your home, please get in touch.