ODIMBAR (One Day I Might Be A Raptor) was not here on 5 April 2017, but had set up his court by 14 April. From behaviour we have considered that he is newly adult-fledged, but he could be an older bird who has shifted his court. It is autumn and the courting that dominates reporting on bowerbirds is not due till spring.

As we begin this blog on 16 April 2017, we already have our hearts in our mouths, concerned that this new family member outside our suburban bedroom window will survive the competition and that his court may thrive. His day is busy: hunting, building, learning, asserting, defending, charming, singing, raucous caucusing and dancing.

And the evidence before us, of daily life, is much more complex than what one usually reads or views on Youtube, of isolated males building bowers in spring to try to entice picky females with whom their relations are fleeting. It's not like that at all here.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

blue things, spittle sticks, learning and despair

And then something happened.

Of course, it happened when the movement sensing camera was inside, having come in, nothing recorded, nothing to say, card on the table but nothing on it,  empty-handed for dinner and refused to leave the couch. So in this Sunday morning, you have partly our eyes' reports, via brain and fingers, partly a handheld camera from inside and wobbling, but providing a movie with information.

It is deep winter, ha ha. 30 July, southern hemisphere It is deep drought and from inland, god knows how they are doing out there, big gusty wind again today. This morning, token of winter, temperature around 6c overnight. By 9am, 22c. Which definitely is harbinger of spring. Until maybe a winter next week.

Source: The Guardian
The scene in the bower space today a little like the Trump White House, with its shifting personae. We should note in relation to this vile creature on the right, Anthony Scaramucci, that his Italian name is that known generally in English as Scaramouche, who is thus described by Wikipedia:
"a stock clown character of the Italian commedia dell'arte (comic theatrical arts). The role combined characteristics of the zanni (servant) and the Capitano (masked henchman). Usually attired in black Spanish dress and burlesquing a don, he was often beaten by Harlequin for his boasting and cowardice."
Well, that's the other news today. They have a knave, three generals and a clown. "This is the way the world ends..." comes into my head. I don't know if it's bang or whimper yet, but there is a lofting spreading sea of sob and scream and hurt.

The Hollow Men of T.S Eliot, here read by Jeremy Irons, bringing us "this is the way the world ends." T.S. Eliot lived far before our madding crowded world. But this still fits.

The bowerbirds around us are not really fairly to be compared with such monsters, I apologise for bringing them into conversation but everybody does these days...

Our birds live in, are part of, and add to the ensemble of ecology.

Our bowerbirds are noble adventurers, not like that lot, they bring to mind Shakespeare's Julius Caesar Act IV, Scene 3, here briefly with the incomparable Sir John Gielgud.
"There is a tide in the affairs of [bowerbirds] which taken at the flood leads on to fortune...."

 I draw your attention to the fact that bowerbirds had a hand in the coloration of that movie clip.

There is indeed a tide in the affairs of bowerbirds. 

So: what happened.

We learned stuff, a eureka plus shared experience.

Sunday morning, prime window watching time. Helen saw it first. There are few blue items left, but black bowerbird[s] are stealing spittle sticks!!

Spittlesticks? We know that bowerbirds spittle up the sticks with which they build their bowers. We also understand that this gives female birds a chance to savour spittle (a subject perhaps deserving study in Homo sapiens****) as a measure of male worthiness. But also, the spittle, in the eyes of bowerbirds, who see a very different wave length of light compared to our own, is luminous or irridescent. And here we dumb humans have been looking at the dance arena, with everything flattened, seeing that blue things have been stolen. And forgetting that to the bowerbirds this 'empty space' is illumined.
**** since writing this, in catching up with popular culture and discovering the most popular youtube song of all [albeit brief] time I discover that Despacito contains lines translated as: "Come test my mouth to see what it taste like to you/I want to see how much love do you have..."
But today, spittle sticks being taken away. Who takes them where, will they deceive some lass?

Also today present is a young, not-yet-black male who may be one we have seen practicing dance and song at the bower. But now there is no bower and in the movie we join him, watch him, trying to work out how you begin to build a bower... how can you begin to build a bower?? Also in the film you see he has arrived with the greatest blue treasure imaginable, none such ever before in this place. We have seen so often the dance with the blue bottle top accented by the white leaf. And here comes the young bird with the top from someone's drink bottle, deep blue with a white thing fixed to the top. What a prize. A prize for whom? Who reigns supreme, as they say in the Iron Chef Japanese. Which is really relevant in showing how the Whole World is Watching when you compete for top bowerbird.
 That's just to help bring you down to same level of bowerbird, in contest, admiration, decoration, excitement and winner takes all. Not the original Whole World's Watching, which has more to do with current politics among humans than bowerbirds, though that time now seems so ... decent.

Note from the film that the green bird seems attracted to the port wine magnolia, left of the stage. We find that there are a lot of blue things on the ground under that tree. We will place a camera inside and see what happens.

Note that the black thief leaves consistently stage left back, direction south, heading for the Grotto bushland 100 metres away.

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