Sore heads and porky pardalotes

To: "John Layton" <>
Subject: Sore heads and porky pardalotes
From: "Philip A. Veerman" <>
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2005 22:17:57 +1100
Hi John,
The "Miss Piggy" (no doubt the muppets character) refers to the same thing as "Paul Keating" in McComas Taylor's field guide or "sleep baby" in other books. It is a reference to what their call is supposed to sound like. I well remember that in early primary school days, the Spotted Pardalote was the first native bird whose call I learned and wondered at what it was and that was long before I knew it was made by a bird. I also remember mid high school days when I first found the bird making the call.
Funny that a tiny bird with basically no burrowing adaptations builds a nest burrow in sand or soil. Although they are fairly tame, and will sometimes sit on a person's head, I have never know one to dig a hole inside a living person's head, so I can't really explain the "Headache-bird" name (for that or any other reason).
-----Original Message-----
From: John Layton <>
To: chat line <>
Date: Monday, 3 January 2005 21:41
Subject: [canberrabirds] Sore heads and porky pardalotes

Hi all,
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 PiggyMiss Piggy. A spot-on imitation!
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 passerines.
The Whistling Laytons.
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