THERE is an unwritten law in our house that the evening dishes remain in the sink until the next morning. For me the benefits are twofold. The night time meal signals the close of day and is not to be invaded by additional toil and the following morning wash up becomes my bird watching time.
Our kitchen window looks out onto a large and largely unkempt garden that at this time of year is left to have its rambling way. Over the years this part of the garden has become a popular playground for many bird species and has been made even more attractive to them by having bird baths placed in predator safe open areas. By the time the dishes are done I would have usually listed at least six different breeds.
Several mornings back, as my attention was drawn from the garden back to the suds, a bird thudded into the window with frightening force. I am sure the window was still quivering as l raised my gaze but to my amazement it was still intact. Years earlier I had sat in the lounge room of a Riverina farm house when a racing pigeon smashed through the window and landed dead at our feet. Our house is mid fifties by birth and as such the glass is much thinner than that allowed by todays building regulations. I think there is little doubt that our victim, like the pigeon, was being pursued. They were flying into a never-ending landscape. How were they to know it was merely a reflection.
Outside a crimson rosella, its soft breast feathers drifting down in a cloud of pinks and greys. Eyes still open and still breathing its head lolling at an awkward angle. You could tell it had only a short time left. I went to the wood heap for the axe.
My mind pictured the development stages this dying creature had passed through. The pure white egg nestling in the deep hollow of a tree. The hatching, the growth, the everyday battle to survive. That first flight, and now this, the last flight, the fatal headlong collision into an illusion.
The next day the gentlest of thuds at the glass door and there lay this beautifully feathered red-browed firetail, wide eyed but with that vacant stunned stare. Still such a tiny and delicate wee thing one would wonder at its chance of survival. I cupped it in my hands to offer warmth then placed it in a shoe box lined with one of my partners possum fur socks and moved it around to the sunny and protected side of the house.
Charlie Bones, our pint-sized guard dog, came over and had a gentle sniff until the possum sock owner yelled at him. The firetail was still there 20 minutes later and although it was sort of sitting up now we were not holding out much hope. Even a broken wing would mean the end. Suddenly it was up and away taking to the air with an impressive burst of speed, flying low and true through the orchard without so much as a by your leave. A miracle bundle of red and olive as it disappeared behind the citrus trees.
I figure that we get up to a dozen similar accidents a year though rarely fatal. Last month a thornbill hit hard and was dead on impact. We buried him at the base of a large stone bird bath. Not sure I would have done that for a magpie or a raven. The smaller they are the more our hearts bleed.
So now we have hung up a loopy banner of Tibetan prayer flags hoping that may protect by breaking up the reflection of what must appear to them a garden yet to be explored or a flight path to safety.
August 26, 2015
A week late but thank you to Bob Middleton for another wonderful tale of The Final Flight. We have a variety of birds that visit us most days and never tire of watching their antics. I just love how Bob weaves his magic in his story-telling and this tale was as mesmerising as the tale about the breeders of the roosters. Thank you Bob for another brilliant story and your awesome talent in portraying a good yarn. A great way to start the day. I love the philosophy of dishes remaining until the next day.
Joy Button, Coronet Bay