Friday, March 6, 2009


The other day, as I was shepherding my straying 2 year old across the tanbark on the way into school to pick up the kids, I heard a familiar "tink!" in the gum tree above. I looked up, and there it was: a small green bird, flitting from branch to branch. A bellbird!

I grew up with bellbirds in our backyard. There's no more beautiful or evocative Australian bird song that I know of, apart from the carolling of the magpies in the early morning. Like the single metallic chime of a high-pitched bell, but far more piercing and beautiful, the bellbirds' "tink!" rings through the bush. You don't often see them, but you can't help but hear them.

I heard another bellbird as I woke up the other morning, chiming from the lemon-scented gums behind our bedroom. And another "tink!" just interrupted my thoughts as I wrote this post. Yes! There's another! And another, and another! Somewhere in the trees near our house there's a bellbird, dancing from tree to tree, piping his little song.

The bellbirds no longer come to the backyard of the house I grew up in. You don't often hear them inside the city limits. But here they are, in the homely surroundings of our suburb. I think they might be fugitives from the burned bushland only 30 minutes to the north of us.

Welcome, little refugees! I hope you've come to stay.

If you've never heard a bellbird (or, more properly, a bell miner) you can listen to it here or here.

image is by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos from Wikimedia Commons.

1 comment:

Rachael said...

Oh I love bellbirds. There were some largish and loud communities around where I grew up in the Blue Mountains, near church, athletics and one just on the side of the highway near a service station. Their song was so loud and clear that you could hear it even driving past full speed on the highway. There were none in the bush near my home and I have never yet seen one! Your post caused a rush of memories, particularly of hot, still days.