Friday, 3 August 2007

Fowl horseplay of the apostlebirds

No good comes from anthropomorphising but it takes a stronger person than me to watch apostlebirds and not impose human motives on them.

Apostlebirds gather in gangs and squabble over ... well, everything it seems, but they're particularly fond of arguing about food. They also appear to scheme. They behave like a cross between the Jurassic Park velociraptors and Wile E. Coyote. Great plot hatchers are the apostlebirds.

On the way up, I watched them slowing down traffic on the Leichhardt Highway north of Goondiwindi. Like the white-winged choughs further south, they spread out on the road, forcing all but the largest trucks to brake. I was sure that they were practising car-jacking. Once they learnt to open a vehicle door, there'd be no stopping them. (Curse these useless wings!)

My suspicions were confirmed* by the activity of a mob of apostlebirds in Chillagoe. When a toddler dropped his sandwich, the birds were on it in a flash. They cleaned it up in seconds and still had time for a barney. But then the child decided to retrieve his food. He approached the birds. They retreated.

But they didn't move very far. They scampered a short distance, then paused. It looked as though they were luring the child to a nearby tree. Why? Well, hidden somewhere in the branches there was almost certainly an Acme anvil. (Curse these useless wings!)


* For very small values of confirmed

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