Saturday, February 11, 2006


once again by birds, I realise I haven't written about them for some time. They are still there, the multitude, the changing varieties.

I give them names, especially the ones that wake me. The whirlpool bird, so-called because its song spirals downwards as it dies away; the shriekers, the crows & white cockatoos, raucous, demanding – I would throw rocks at their noise though not at the bird, though perhaps the crows…..; the bebop bird.

Their prevalence or their singularity changes. I haven't seen a pheasant coucal this year, nor have I heard the owls at night, boobooking, mopoking away. There are more pelicans in the local lagoon which still has water unlike some others around. Rainbow lorrikeets are everywhere, either performing their acrobatics in the trees, orange breasts in the green, as they eat the flowers, or getting drunk on fermented fallen mangoes. I have seen a white-browed woodswallow for the first time, or maybe it's always been here & I've only just come to recognise it. But the small birds are not around.

A pair of kingfishers prowls the pool fence, flying away when I come out. A kookaburra remains on the clothesline, head cocked, watching the ground, watching me as I hang out the clothes a metre away.

The seasons change, but we give them their European names & overlook the subtleties. The earth changes & I do not recognise it. Obviously the birds are aware of both, & their comings & goings reflect it. They have an innate knowledge where I only have a potpourri of impressions. They live, not by rules as we do, but by symbiosis, living with, not on, not off, the land.


Jordan said...

Mark, have you ever wandered here?

pleasure names!

mark young said...


You might be interested in this site which puts pictures to some of the names.

One of the few joys about where I live is that it's a place where the bird ranges overlap. Sort of like a Venn diagram. Not only do we get some of the birds from the far northern areas but also those that tend to be more central/ southern. It's one of the few places where you see both varieties of kingfishers for example.

In the course of a day, without venturing anywhere special, I'd probably see 50-60 varieities of birds, & a different selection each day.

mark young said...

that should have been kookaburras - which is a big kingfisher anyway.