Wrens put bounce into backyard birding

To: "Canberrabirds" <>
Subject: Wrens put bounce into backyard birding
From: "John Layton" <>
Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2008 21:08:48 +1000
Back home again after a stay in hospital I wanted to go birding again but am restricted as to where I can travel for a while yet , so chose my own backyard which can be pleasingly productive particularly if you raise your gaze skywards as all washday birders know. Went to a far corner of the yard where (weed warriors may wish to leave off here) I've let a clump of Canary Grass Phalaris minor go to seed in the hope it would attract some Red-Browed or Double-barred Finches but the ungrateful things never even sent an RSVP. Nearby, dandelions are allowed to survive, happily the old-world finches demonstrated a bit more appreciation (opportunism?) and add a dash of colorful avian multiculturalism to the scene when charms of European Goldfinches  visit the seeding dandies.
Anyhow,as I approached the Canary Grass I was greeted by a bevy of canaries.(Didn't that grab the flagging attention!) Actually a group of Superb Fairy Wrens came forth, demonstrating that inimitable lighter-than-air bouncing mode of motivation they are wont to employ. Don't often see them here probably due to the cat population. Anyhow, one female had me absolutely nonplussed. Here was this rotund-looking little brown bird sans tail feathers (due to altercation with Felix catus?), and my imaginative speculation entered overdrive until the penny dropped. Also noticed three males in eclipse and one seemingly in full breeding finery, I understand that some of the older bulls don't molt into eclipse plumage Why is this so? After birding I like to read up on what I've seen, even the common species. It's a good excuse to relax and get lost in bird-bookish peregrinations. This time I noticed that on the plate facing p.166 of Simpson & Day, Fifth Edition, there's a picture of a male Superb Fairy Wren captioned "molt", its throat and upper chest horizontally splotched with black. Perhaps this is a no- brainer but I assume this particular little stud is either entering or passing out of eclipse. Oddly enough, I've never noticed this plumage pattern in the field before.
Thus I ended my little re-entry into the world of birding happy that as a birder I can derive welcome distraction, interest and joy from minuscule common garden-variety critters. And, no doubt, it's grand therapy too.
And thank you MSE for the hand-crafted card. Why, that cockatoo looks like it's about to wing off and pig-out on my almond crop.
John Layton
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