Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Favorite Australian Bird

One of the most unexpectedly wonderful aspects of our stay in Australia has been my enchantment with Australian birds. They are big, they are showy and colorful, their strange calls remind me over and over again that I am living in a foreign country.

My favorite bird, though, is not big and it's feathers aren't painted with a myriad of colors. No, my favorite bird is small, sweet and impossible to photograph. It is the diminutive Fairy-Wren. (By the way, Wikipedia tells me that it should be spelled fairywren; however, Australian scientists abbreviate the name so we're going with that version.)

Photo from
In Canberra, we have the species known as the superb fairy-wren. This little guy is mostly black and white with blue accents on his head and tail feathers. His cousin, the splendid fairy-wren is a bright blue all over and lives a bit more inland.

When I say that these birds are small, I mean they are tiny! I could easily fit 5 of them in my hand. They are also very quick, constantly flitting about and wagging their tail feathers back and forth. I've tried to photograph them but only get a blur in the picture.

A few months ago, Drew and I were at a festival and saw the below polymer clay and copper artwork by a local artist, Malgorzata Malzacher.  It now hangs on our wall, a unique reminder of the beautiful birdlife that Australia has to offer.

Maybe one day I will capture the perfect photograph of a fairy-wren. Until then, I am content to watch them. My bluebird of happiness in this sunburned country.


I'd like to dedicate this post to my grandfather who passed away last month. He was an avid reader of this blog, always asking me questions about the flora and fauna of Australia and about our life here. Give him any subject under the sun and he could contribute to the discussion. He read extensively up until he died. Fiction, history, science, adventure tales, even the Harry Potter series. 

I remember one morning, in late middle school or early high school, my grandfather showed up at our house and asked if I wanted to go to the farm and feed the cows with him. It had snowed the night before so I was home from school. It was early enough that not many people had been out on the roads yet, and the forests and fields had that pristine quietness that only comes with freshly fallen snow. I sat alongside him on the tractor, bundled in warm clothes, and we fed hay bales to the cows. My grandfather had his camera and his binoculars, ready to point out any cardinals or foxes or deer that were in the fields. I don't remember how many hours we were out there or what we talked about. I just remember that it was beautiful and peaceful and that we had a great time.


  1. Sorry to hear about your grandpa. This is a lovely post and lovely tribute to his memory. xoxo

  2. Mandy - so sorry to hear about your grandpa :-(. Miss you guys....hope you're doing alright.

  3. Lovely birds, lovely post, and what a lovely memory of your grandfather. I am so sorry. Love you lots.


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