This could be interesting, 10 favourite birds. I thought about just UK birds, or just Australian birds, but decided on a mixture of the two. Bird watching is something that my whole family partook in as I was growing up, my brother with his photographic memory was maddeningly good at recognising them, while the rest of us scrambled for the field guides until we’d learnt them. One of my first Australian purchases was a bird book, as it felt decidedly odd walking around and not knowing what the birds I saw every day were. I’m slowly getting there on city based birds over here, but there are so many bird species compared to the UK, it’ll take me a while before I know the more tropical varieties, let alone the emus! Here we go:
- Sparrow – yes I know they’re regarded as a pest, and yes I know they are common as muck, but I truly love these little birds. I love that they all congregate in trees or bushes in huge communities and chatter away like mad. I also like how inquisitive they are, and how bold they will be if you sit still with some food to hand. I’ve always got dried fruit and nuts in my handbag for emergency snacks, and remember sitting in Federation Square breaking bits off dates and cashews and slowly getting the sparrows closer and closer to me, so I could see all their feathers.
- Superb Fairy Wren – for my UK/US readers, no I’m not making this name up. Take a look at it and you’ll see why! What you can’t see in the photo which you see in real-life is the blue is absolutely incandescent. We had a couple visit the garden at our old house, and every time we’ve been to Healesville sanctuary we’ve seen them, needless to say, they stick out like sore thumbs when perched on a blade of grass or bush. They are tiny too, definitely wren size.
- Crimson Rosella – while a probably what was originally a tropical bird, this now another suburb based bird here in Australia. Immediately distinctive, the red flashing past you in parks is part of walking round Melbourne.
- Albatross – never seen one, but the majesty of these birds inspire me. That they mate for life, spend most of their lives at sea and seem to be so graceful as they cruise around on thermals in the documentaries I’ve seen of them, I couldn’t leave them off this list.
- Kookaburra – related to the Kingfisher in the UK, that image is usually how you will see them over here, sitting on a telephone wire, watching the world go by and waiting for their prey. These you tend to see outside the cities.
- Black Cockatoo – Australia is overrun with Saffron Crested Cockatoos, they’re like seagulls are in the UK, everywhere and in huge flocks at times too. The Black Cockatoos are harder to find, but the red flash on their undercarriage make them easy to spot.
- Swallows – (note to self, looking for an image of them online isn’t necessarily recommended!) I love all the free-wheeling, on-the-air-eating birds in the genus. We had a family of housemartins that used to nest opposite our house when I was little, but I did a project on Swallows when I was at infant school, so will remain slightly biased towards them.
- Barn Owls – I can’t look at owls full stop without thinking of mum, and continue to find little models and figures of them I want to send her, usually too fragile so they won’t make the journey.
- Starlings – I can’t look at these flying in formation without thinking of my best friend.
- Mandarin Ducks – surely the most extravagent, silliest plumage you’ve ever seen, (even beating Puffins) but surely that is the point? You can’t look at them and not smile.
At one point there I thought I’d struggle to get to ten, but surprised myself.