Saturday, August 27, 2016

Brolga with an identity crisis thinks it is cattle station's working dog

Brollie the brolga is the resident pet at a remote cattle station in Queensland, Australia, and appears to have an identity crisis. "Her favourite option [for food] is dog biscuits; she actually eats more dog biscuits than my two dogs eat [and] has her own bowl out with the dogs," grazier Karen Price said. After being rescued from town more than 12 months ago, Brollie the brolga was given to the Price family. It was not long before Brollie became "boss of the property" at Fort Constantine station, north of Cloncurry, in north-west Queensland.

"We have got some poddy calves and a pet sheep who we let out of a pen near the house and Brollie is funny with them," Ms Price said. "Last week the sheep kept trying to come out of the gate and [Brollie] was herding it up and putting it back into the pen. Every now and then, my two dogs will bark when I pull up at our front gate and if Brollie is around, she will start letting out a noise as well, as if to say 'well I'd better make a bit of noise too'." Brollie has also taken it upon herself to get involved in station work. "She is not a bad worker [but] she doesn't exactly go mustering," Ms Price said.

"It's more when we have already mustered and we have worked the cattle and are taking cattle back to their paddocks - she always tags along; she loves it." Ms Price said Brollie's love of dog biscuits and her interest in cattle work may have her believing she is a working dog. But that is not the only identity confusion Brollie the brolga faces. There has also been some debate at Fort Constantine over the sex of the brolga. Ms Price remains adamant Brollie is female, but some staff have taken it upon themselves to nickname the bird Benny the Brolga. Nonetheless, Brollie/Benny has become quite a personality around the station. "She is a free spirited bird. We don't lock her up, she comes and goes as she pleases," Ms Price said.

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"She has her favourites with people and is definitely the boss of the complex. She loves dancing which is a thing brolgas do, often the staff have a dance with her, and she does fly; quite often you will hear her, she calls out before she takes off. In the afternoons, Brollie will do a bit of a loop around the whole place and then she will come back and quite often you will find her over at the recreation club with all the girls and fellas having a beer." They say brolgas mate for life and the hope at Fort Constantine is that Brollie will soon find love. "It would be nice one day to think she will find a mate," Ms Price said. "I think for now she thinks I am her mother because I am the one that feeds her and she follows me around the place. Hopefully she will find a mate one day, even though I will miss her when she goes."

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