The Secret Life of Birds

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Secret Life of BirdsI’m not a bird watcher – I’ve never kept lists of birds I’ve seen or set off on trips where spotting birds is the most important part of the journey. Nevertheless there are lots of places I’ve been (Ethiopia, Kenya, Mongolia, Costa Rica and the Falkland Islands for starters) where bird watching was an important part of the experience. And lots of places where I unexpectedly found myself signing up for some bird watching opportunity. A delightful dawn river excursion in a ‘tinny’ (a small outboard-powered, aluminium dinghy) near Mossman in North Queensland for example. Plus I keep a couple of bird books and a pair of binoculars at the ready at my place in Australia, where all sorts of birds are inclined to turn up in the back yard.

The book I’ve just read is an interesting introduction with lots of interesting little bits and pieces of knowledge although, unfortunately, the most fascinating ones – the ‘bohemian’ life of emus, the collecting habits of bowerbirds, the intelligence of parrots and crows – I was already familiar with. Nevertheless when two robins turned up the terrace of my place in London I now know they were a breeding pair, robins are extraordinarily territorial and cannot abide having any other robin of the same sex (or even opposite sex outside the breeding season) in their own patch.