Spotted Pardalotes featured in after-dinner conversation yesterday evening
when Younger Brat arrived home and reported that she saw a pair nesting in a
hanging plant basket beneath eaves of a verandah in Gundagai.
Pretty soon the table was strewn with bird books, all open at the
appropriate pardalote page or spot, if you like. To our amazement, HANZAB cites,
under Other English Names, Headache-bird. Has anyone ever contracted a
headache from a Spotted Pardalote? Admittedly, I've long referred to pardalotes
and other tiny, continually-moving passerines of the higher, outer foliage
as PINs, i.e. Pain In Necks, because that's what we get after
watching them for a while.
Further to our amazement, HANZAB also cites Miss Piggy. We took this as a
reference to the inimitable Muppets character, but wondered why. Was there
something plainly porcine about pardalotes that we hadn't spotted?
Suddenly, a little light bulb popped on above YB's head and she
declared it probably referred to the call of the Spotted Pardalote, and
proceeded to whistle Miss Piggy, Miss Piggy. A spot-on
Then I recalled McComas Taylor's description of the call as Paul
Keating, Paul Keating. (See Field Guide to the Birds of the
ACT 1993). So, YB whistled Miss Piggy, Miss Piggy again,
while I did Paul Keating, Paul Keating, and we agreed that
even the most pernickety pardalote wouldn't have spotted any difference.
Best of birding during 2005, and may all your headaches be perky little
The Whistling Laytons.