Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Everyone's a critic
A spotted catbird (left) sings, while a brush turkey (right) looks on 

In A General History of Birds (1821), ornithologist John Latham described this bird as the 'New Holland vulture'.

He later corrected his misapprehension, but I am considering resurrecting the name. Not because of the appearance — although they do look very vulturine — but because the brush turkey is the rainforest species most likely to knock you over, then rip out and eat your still twitching liver, possibly washing it down with a nice glass of chianti. (I'm a bit vague on the chianti, because I'm not sure if any of the local bottle shops stock it. A turkey’d probably have to buy it in Cairns and bring it up the range. But I'm only speculating, you understand. They might wash down a liver with cask moselle for all I know.)

Oh, New Holland vultures brush turkeys pretend to be harmless. On warm afternoons, they lie around in the sun.

But look at these claws. I swear they're adamantium.

One of the turkey hens has kicked a hole in the screen door. Now she can slide the door open and get into the kitchen. Why does she want to get in? To raid the pantry? To knock me over and rip out my liver? To see if I've got any chianti in the cupboard, to save her the trip down to Cairns and back?


To take my shoes.

I find myself yelling, 'Don't you steal my shoes!' at the birds. I suppose this is good practice for my dotage.

I suspect my dotage is not as far away as I'd like.


Sherrie Y said...

Do you suppose they want the shoes as goblets for the chianti? What other explanation could there be?

Snail said...

I wonder if they are setting up house somewhere? They are enthusiastic --- but inept --- thieves.

I've caught one trying to roll a bucket down the driveway. A bucket, of course, doesn't roll in a straight line, so the turkey's criminal activity was thwarted without my intervention.

One even attempted to drag away a hammock that I hadn't set up yet. A rope hammock with a wooden frame is a heavy object, but the turkey was determined to take it elsewhere.

It's like the avian version of Oliver Twist.

Mr. Smiley said...

Our turkeys take the shoes off the porch and throw them in the driveway. They are letting off steam because they don't get fed enough/

Snail said...

We will have to start a diversionary program for antisocial turkeys!

Sherryl said...

Goodness, they are worse than cats. At least my cats don't steal my shoes. One day you may come across a very strange little house in the forest...

Snail said...

I am worried that there's a turkey version of Heart of Darkness going on.

Denis Wilson said...

Wonderful photo essay.
Cannot understand, or explain the Shoe Fetish.
Lovely story though.