For the Birds……

I love learning new things. And this weekend I leant some interesting facts about the local birdlife in Texas. This, in turn led me to think about the birdlife of my home country, and how considerably different it is from where I am living at present. So, I thought I would share with y’all what I learned.

We were at another pool party/ film night this past Saturday and while there we got onto discussing birds (the flying, feathered variety)*. While relaxing in the pool before the movie, we noticed a flock of chimney swifts overhead. Chimney swifts are swallow-like, with very long, narrow, curved wings. Australia doesn’t have any chimney swifts – they are only found in the Americas and nor do we have many of the other common birds we see around here. * NB. Women (particularly young and attractive ones) are often colloquially referred to as ‘birds’ in Australia.

Barn Swallow (and nest built on a fire sprinkler head next door to us).

Barn Swallow (and nest built on a fire sprinkler head next door to us).

For example,  we regularly see the barn swallow (they are very common where we live with many nesting around the apartment building we live in). The barn swallow is apparently rarely seen in Australia, but we do have the Welcome Swallow, which is very similar.

However, what really prompted me to write this post was the mockingbird (I wish I had a photo, but, alas, I do not – here is a link to a nice picture though).

When we sit out on our balcony, we often hear a bird that can produce many a different variety of calls and songs – it has quite a repertoire; we asked a friend about it (who happens to be a Professor of Biology and the Dean of Sciences at Austin College) and he told us it was a mockingbird – this seems so obvious now!If you would like to hear a Mockingbird – check out these 2 YouTube links: Mockingbird sounds or Mockingbird Song Serenade. Mockingbirds aren’t in Australia (or at least not as far as I know). They are very clever birds and just happen to be the state bird of Texas! Mockingbirds are fairly non-descript and are dull grey in colour with white patches on their wings and tail which are visible when they fly.

Actually most of the bird life here seems to lack any remarkable colour; so different to the birdlife of Australia (although,, we do have our share of dull looking birds). There are a lot of birds with some wonderful colour in Australia, particularly our parrots. For example:

Crimson Rosella

Crimson Rosella

A Galah

A Galah

Finally, I must make a confession: While I can really appreciate the beauty and majesty of most birds, they are not my favourite type of animal. I generally am a bit “flightly” around them myself – they make me nervous. Now this is largely due to an encounter with many lorikeets at a bird sanctuary (being thrust amongst them during a feeding frenzy – at least that’s how I see it) when I was a small child, which I apparently found terrifying – the scars are now reasonably well hidden, but they are still there and birds still have the power to scare me! Crazy, I know! 🙂 

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