My first close encounter with birds came when a flock of blue tits flew through a classroom window of the primary school I attended in Britain in the 1950s. The arrival of the birds was opportune because that very morning the class had had nature study, a core syllabus at the time. Nature study took its place firmly alongside the Three Rs, reading, writing and ’rithmatic, Nature study meshed nicely with the first two because when it came to learning to read many of the … [Read more...] about The language of birds
On The Wing
A column for all seasons
Everyone has a story about birds. They are all about us and are our contact point with nature. The birds I see are usually in an urban environment and so I concentrate on these in my writing. I don’t pretend to be an expert but birds of the city and suburb are also the ones that most people identify with, the species you do not need a compass and binoculars to seek out. A scarlet robin singing in a garden is just as exciting as a swift parrot in an ancient forest and is worth just as many words in my On the Wing writings.
The noisy miners were being particularly raucous one Sunday afternoon this month when Hobart’s Bushcare volunteers gathered for their annual year-end BBQ. A lone magpie and a flock of eastern rosellas put in an appearance, too, although they graced the event with sweet song and not the miner’s harsh, look-at-me, look-at-me cry. Perhaps the birds were there to say thanks to the Bushcare volunteers for all the hard work they had put in over the past year to help conserve the … [Read more...] about Bushcare volunteers to the fore
The orange-bellied parrot continues to survive on a wing and a prayer as the summer breeding season progresses at its only know nesting site, at Melaleuca in the far south-west. This season only 16 birds have returned to the breeding grounds from the mainland, 13 males and three females. Of these, all the females and 10 males were born in the wild and not captive-bred and the other three males are captive-bred birds that survived the winter after being released at … [Read more...] about Still hope for orange-bellied parrot
Panic in the air on late-spring afternoon on the Derwent, a pastel-yellow sun about to set behind kunanyi/Mt Wellington. A marauding collared sparrowhawk has got among a flock of galahs and they are fleeing in all directions. Their screams shatter the peace of a gentle stroll along the waterfront at Long Beach in Lower Sandy Bay. It gets worse when a pair of sulphur-crested cockatoos join in. I had been receiving treatment from a physiotherapist for a knee injury and a … [Read more...] about Sparrowhawk causes a flap
A pair of grey shrike-thrushes have been captivating a reader with their sweet singing. My email and telephone runs hot in the spring with readers reporting bird sightings, and the email from Kingston certainly struck a chord. I, too, revel in the rich, far-carrying song of the shrike-thrush, in which the birds seem to be calling out the name “Joe Whitty’’. For this reason, the grey shrike-thrush is also known as the Joe Whitty in Tasmania, even by people who know the song … [Read more...] about Bearer of bad tidings