Every morning when I wake up, I can hear the birds in the neighborhood as they greet the day. Double paned windows and good insulation are not common in Australia, or at least, my apartment doesn’t have these things, so I can pretty much hear if so much as a frog sneezes outside my window. The other factor in this issue is that the birds here don’t just sing – they squawk, screech, moan, cackle, wail, trumpet, and catcall. It’s like comparing Judy Garland with Ethel Merman. Although you can appreciate the talent of both ladies, you wouldn’t want Ethel Merman singing you to sleep. While I appreciate the fact that I live in a neighborhood that’s green enough to host all these different birds, sometimes I just wish they’d shut the hell up.
I do think that Australia has much prettier birds than a lot of places in America – certainly more colorful birds than we ever saw in Alaska. Some of the most colorful are the rainbow lorikeets, which are endemic, at least in Eastern Australia. I hear flocks of them screeching in the trees on the way to the bus every morning, and every once in a while I catch a glimpse of red, green and purple as they flit between trees.
I think my favorite is the kookaburra, though. They are quite loud with their crazy “laugh”, but they have quite a personality and can be very cheeky. One of my former coworkers had a kookaburra that decided it owned his house. Every morning it woke him up, pecking at the windows. It ruined all of his screens with its giant beak, so he decided to do something about it. He spent a hundred dollars on a giant wooden owl meant to scare it away, only to find it sitting on the owl, pecking it the next morning. I think they were relieved to move back to Melbourne and let the kookaburra have the place.
Heidi and Dan were not too impressed with the birds’ singing either – in particular, when they kept us awake all night camping near the river in Dubbo. I had dreams about ghosts of murdered children visiting me in that field, which I’m pretty sure is directly related to hearing cockatoos wailing in my sleep. Multiple references were made during their visit about the “cockatoo of happiness” waking us up in the mornings.
|Chirp chirp! Don't I look pleasant and friendly? Well, I'm NOT!|
In summary, I have decided that these birds are beautiful to look at in the wild, and enjoy in aviaries and zoos, but never, ever will I have one as a pet.