Romantic, Autumnal Melancholy of Birds

Well, it’s rainy again. (The reason I haven’t been posting is mainly that it stopped raining for a little while there and I got to be outside more!) This time, however, it’s cool and rainy. Time for jumpers and boots. Finally. Though I still work up a sweat when walking, and the hills are clad in steamy mists.

There’s definitely something that changes with bird calls as the air begins to cool and the days to shorten. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Is it a quality to the air that seems to make them more echo-y? Or is it the quality of the light and the temperature of the breeze that seem to foster a romantic melancholy, either in my mind (and thence my ears) or in the birds themselves?

The bigger, more common birds seem more vocal and present – the crows, magpies, currawongs (all of whom accompanied me on the morning walk with dogs today). A currawong swooped ahead of me on silent wings, from branch to branch, turning its big black head back towards me with that harsh-bright yellow gaze that knifes right through you. And the magpies don’t seem to be warbling at this time, they prefer a sort of doleful sighing phrase with only a couple of notes, which also seems to pierce right to the heart.

But the most romantically doleful voice of all must be that of the Fan-tailed Cuckoo. While I always think of drongo as our most prominent summer-visiting bird, these cuckoos are surely the voice of the coming cooler months. I’m fairly certain they’re at least partly migratory, as with the drongoes (who are still lingering, I keep thinking they’re gone but then I hear a smattering of their noisy chatter. Maybe this lengthy wet, warm season has kept them). Listen to the cuckoo’s call here (lower left of page): – I promise its worth a listen … if you’re the romantic, melancholy kind.

image sourced from

image sourced from


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