Saturday, May 07, 2011

Make a Little Birdhouse in Your Soul

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.

Rainbow Lorikeet

Crimson Rosella


King Parrot

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.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful! Believe I'll bring ear plugs for when we visit though.


L said...

You might think about it, Mom. Especially since we'll have the windows open because it will be warm.

Carlw4514 said...

ghosts of murdered children? do you have something in your past you forgot to tell us? not too many female serial killers out there they tell us. [g]

My Kookaburra story, it's pretty funny: First you familiarize me with what bird makes this sound one day, and practically the next day at work I start hearing this Kookaburra out in the parking lot. OK, this is it, I'm losing my mind? Different days I walk around trying to find the source of this sound but can't. Finally I mention it to a stranger who looks unlikely to call the guys with the straightjackets, and he tells me the answer. Some store there has a problem with pigeons molesting their [I forget] product and play this sound on their roof, finding evidently it scares them off.

It was funny, it wound up being just loud enough to where I was looking in trees nearby to see what local bird made this similar noise, or if some local person let his pet go, or what? After a day or two I realized that can't be it since the sound was always in this general area, but I really couldnt locate it and thankfully this one person knew the deal!!

L said...

Re: my dream, I think it is more a testament of seeing too many horror movies.

That's a funny story about the kookaburra. Ethan and I have recognized the call as the typical "jungle" noise heard in cartoons and games.