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Ornithology

Updated: Sep 24, 2021



‘I reckon they’re a flock of seagulls.’


‘Seagulls! No way they’re seagulls. Seagulls have long red legs and webbed feet. Those birds have short legs with claws.’


Old mates, Arnold and Callum, had just met up for a run, and stood for a moment marvelling at the sight of a flock of white birds chattering to each other as they competed for seeds at the foot of an old pine tree in Centennial Park.


‘Then, obviously, they’re a bunch of galahs.’


‘That’s ridiculous. Galahs are pink and grey, and these are white all over.’


‘Well, that settles it. They must be white cockatoos.’


‘Not quite. Where are their magnificent yellow sulphur crests? Those birds are just about bald.’


‘What would you know? It’s not like you’re an ornithologist.’


‘It may surprise you to know that I am a subject matter expert. They used to call the alto saxophone player Charlie Parker ‘Bird’ and his most famous recording is called ‘Ornithology’. They even named a jazz club in New York City ‘Birdland’ in his honour.’


‘Knowing about jazz musicians doesn’t make you an ornithologist.’


‘Why do you say that?’


‘Well, let’s say I’m a twitcher. I’ve been watching birds all my life.’


‘Tell me something I don’t know.’


‘I’m serious. I even know how a bird feels.’


‘It doesn’t take rocket science to work out that those birds are hungry.’


‘The reason seagulls fight over a packet of chips at the beach is not that they are hungry. In fact, they’re usually very well fed. They compete for food because they have a fear of missing out.


‘What, FOMO?’


‘Exactly – fear of missing out. They all want a piece of what the other birds have, regardless of whether they need it. It’s the same reason corporate raiders take over companies. They do it to get a slice of the action, not because they need another superyacht.’


‘So, you are saying those birds are behaving like billionaires?’


‘Yes. And by coming over here to have a good geek, you’re probably also displaying a bit of FOMO. By the way, the birds are corellas, part of the cockatoo family, so you were half right.’


Robert Carrick



Copyright: story by writer listed above; photos cv williams.


This emerging writers blog is made possible with City of Sydney assistance.

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