Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Hands up who has ever seen a Whipbird. I thought so.

The Australian Eastern whipbird (Psophodes olivaceous) [note again the reference to colour] is a member of an ancient group of bird species found nowhere else. Its call is as distinctly Australian and as well recognised as perhaps the Kookaburra, but unlike the Kooka, is rarely seen - very often heard, hardly ever seen. He is not only shy, but as you will see, extremely well camouflaged, mostly sedentary, and spends most of its hyperactive life rooting through the leaf litter with strong legs and flinging beak on the search for insects.

The distinctive loud whistle which ends in a sharp crescendo whip crack everyone knows. The higher pitched sweeter tyooooo-tyoooo which usually, but not always, follows is the female's reply. There is some thinking that the reverse may be the case, it is the female cracking the whip and the poor put-upon male answering 'yes dear, quite so', or even that the male may answer himself (I know how he feels).

What catches your eye when you are lucky enough to see one, as I did today, is the loveliness of the olive on grey, the white as white cheeks that bleed down either side of the neck onto the chest, sharp little brown eyes, a super-alertness, and a more than cocky attitude. This bird means business. To top it all off, there is just that: a top knot.

I'm not sure what triggered the head feathers up look, perhaps it was sensing my presence even though I was taking the shots from inside the house, but when they went up, he became almost all but a cartoon.


Sarah said...

Have I told you how much I love your bird posts?

wanderer said...

Thanks Sarah.

And I meant to tell you how much I loved Fidelio (with some minor reservations) which I would have missed except for she who convinced me to go.

Sarah said...

That is very good news. I was slightly worried you might be disappointed after I'd hyped it so heavily, and then I'd have felt rather guilty. And while I've seen chez Marcellous that you weren't as taken with Peter CW as I was (and am), at least he didn't cancel on you - and you even got the disappearing Nicole - so perhaps you're not cursed after all.