Australia has the most beautiful birds. My favorite thing about coming to Australia has always been how different the birds are here from anywhere else in the world.
Everyday there are colorful birds flying overhead and hanging out in the trees. It's so different to the sparrows and robins of New York and I feel lucky that I get to see three of my favorite birds here daily: the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, Rainbow Lorikeet and Kookaburra.
Amy and I came across this Kookaburra on a walk a couple of weeks ago. He had apparently stolen a piece of meat from someone's BBQ, which I'm told is quite is common. Amy told me that a Kookaburra had recently stolen a sausage from her family's barbecue. Native to Australia, Kookaburras are unusual for many reasons: they're almost exclusively meat eaters, they 'laugh' and they're quite large (photo below for sense of scale). They also eat snakes and spiders.
The Australian Crested Dove is called a pigeon by Australians, although in person I think it looks more like a dove than a pigeon. There are always a few on the roof around sunset and I like to sit out on the deck and watch all the birds settle in for the night. There's quite a bit of activity and SO MANY sulphur crested cockatoos flying overhead and making loud squawking noises.
Once the Sun sets, the flying foxes come out, which are seriously cool looking as they are so large. Considered MEGABATS, they fly all over Sydney at night. Unfortunately, their numbers are in decline and they've become a serious conservation issue in Australia.
The black and white bird above is a Magpie. It has the most beautiful songs of all the birds I've heard so far and I love listening to them everyday. However, I've always been a little afraid of them because of 'swooping season,' a phenomenon I have yet to experience.
From late August to October, when their eggs are hatching, some Magpies become aggressive to pedestrians and cyclists and swoop down as they come close to a nest in a tree. They typically do a series of warning strikes close to their target, then swoop directly onto the head or neck and can inflict head injuries with their beak. Many cyclists wear helmets with spikes on them and pedestrians carry umbrellas to ward off swooping magpies.
Over Easter weekend, Amy and I went with friends to the beach town of Gerringong, south of Sydney. The landscape was absolutely beautiful -- green and hilly, with evergreen trees and dairy farms. It reminded me of Switzerland, except butting up against this green landscape was a stunning beach: Seven Mile Beach.
Not only was the beach full of surfers and paddleboarders, it was full of Galahs (above). I was so excited to see these and spent quite some time trying to get close enough to take photos. Another bird at the beach, a Sandpiper (above), was busy trying to catch Goolwa Pippies, which are tiny clams. I saw them on a menu a week earlier and ordered them -- they are delicious.
Australia's unique ecosystem makes me feel like I'm on another planet sometimes. There's so much to see, so much to explore, and so much to be inspired by to make art.