Blue Neon

The first thing that you notice about the birds of Australia is the colour. There are drab, sulking sparrows here but they are relegated to the shadows. Every tree is a shop-window for cockatoos, magpies, old crows with patches of white and small pretty things with dabs of colour under their wings. Their tailoring is brilliant and efficient, garish and comely. They are sometimes as skittish as convention says that birds are supposed to be, but they are forward too. The magpies attack to defend their territories. The gulls strut and preen like glowing stormtroopers, stamping their feet like the cracks of whips. They sashey past as you drink your morning coffee or eat your evening meal. They display their wares with abandon. Their calls are sharp and melodic, piercing the trees. They shout their shrill songs, or whisper comely ballads to you as you pass by. Their eyes do not avoid, they fix you calmly.  They perform acrobatics against tall branches, swivelling to watch you with hungry eyes, looking for threats and loot at the same time, backed by song and soft, green rustling. There are natives and imports and it is often hard to separate the two. They patrol the innermost heart of the city, pecking and exploring, pulling morsels from between the cracks, looking for trouble and finding it. But all is not well. The imports look beaten and scurry aside when approached away from their nests. Their feathers though bright have seen better days. Beyond the brightness, their eyes and beaks are rough and fierce. They have conquered man's nature, but not without cost.




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