Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Melbourne song thrushes

The combination of rubble, old bricks and rampant weeds that constitutes my back garden is the perfect foraging site for song thrushes (Turdus philomelos). Oh, the blackbirds like it too. They love to throw around the last few bits of mulch that the neighbour's cats haven't already redistributed. But the song thrushes go bananas — they've got snails, they've got anvils. What bird could ask for anything more?

The species was introduced into Australia in the mid- to late 1800s to pretty up the place with its melodies. The carolling magpies and butcherbirds obviously just weren't enough for those settlers — they wanted to hear the sounds of home. Song thrushes have done nowhere near as well as some of the other introduced species and are restricted to a relatively small area of southern Victoria. They're holding on in Melbourne. At least, in my garden, which they've turned into a snail slaughterhouse.

And now that spring is here, they'll be leading the dawn and dusk choruses with their musical call. Yes, they're introduced but I can make allowances.

That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!

Robert Browning, Home thoughts, from abroad


Mosura said...

They're great birds. Used to enjoy them in my garden but they are not doing too well in Britain overall.

Snail said...

Maybe I could export the ones in my garden? They're pretty healthy looking --- full of snails and fat.