First Person

For the Birds

Over the years I have become increasingly aware of the beauty and allusive qualities of Australian bird song. We hear and read about European birds and their song or call; the European magpie (Pica pica) is not at all related to the Australian one (Gymnorhina tibicen) although it inspired at least one musical composition, Rossini’s Thieving Magpie Overture (1813). Yet the Aussie magpie, I am sure, has a much larger repertoire. It is also a much bigger bird, a walker rather than a hopper, with quite a long life-span averaging about eleven years. We hear of the lark, celebrated in…

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