My space

Satin bowerbirdWe have a new tenant in a quiet spot near our China lady tree. I’ve written a short story about him this week for your enjoyment. After, treat yourself to the YouTube video I’ve linked at the end of the post so you can see the real thing in action.

The fleck of blue caught Marg’s eye as she trudged up the slope past the little garden.

“Hey, wait on, Mick,” she called, peering into a shaded area under the hibiscus. “What’s all this? Justa minute! – You been putting clothes pegs in there?”

Mick, who’d been just ahead, stepped close beside her. “Will you look at that!?” he exclaimed. “Never seen a real one before. You know what it is? – a bowerbird made it. That black bird we see around all the time? He’s making a love nest here.”

Marg frowned. “Gawd, he’s got a good dozen of my clothes pegs in there. And there’s a pen top. Lookit the bottle caps,” she said, pointing. “What’s with all the old twine and packing tape? And what’s he got, a thing for BLUE?”

“Dunno,” said Mick. “Maybe he’s just got the one colour he can see, outsidea black’n’white. Anyway, it’s all in the name of love. He wants to attract the females.”

“Check out the straw hat,” Marg pointed. “Whazzat?”

Bower ready for action“That’s the bower,” Mick explained. “He makes it from scratch. Guess it’s where the love-making happens.”

“Well,” said Marg, “she’d have to be a few bricks short of a load to get romantic in a mess like that. And he’d better get my pegs out of my flower bed before too long.”

“Aw, settle, luv,” Mick took her hand and pulled her away. “Look,” he said, pointing. “That’s him up there in the big gum watchin’ us.”


He watches until the big Two-legs are safely out of sight, a straw from the nearby pasture still held firmly in his beak. Then he darts down to his front door. Hop, hop, hop, over the little threshold. Hop, hop to his hallowed bower. Cocking his head to one side, he positions the straw so it exactly touches the next one in the wall that he’s creating. One quick corrective tap and it’s in place.

Now, he checks over his magnificent passageway, the mural he has created displayed in front of him. He cocks an eye toward the top of his shelter, where dark leaves dapple the blue sky overhead. He dips his head down towards the floor below, where the same image is reflected in the pools and strands he has created—blue glimmering against the dark floor. It’s wonderful, but it’s not finished yet; there’s always something more to add.

Hop, hop, hop, back to the bower. He thinks about Her, his pulse quickening. This space will be a wonder that will command her attention, that will call her in and be a Rightness. He gives a tug at a wayward strand of straw, then hop, hops to the threshold.

He takes a quick glance back into the chamber, because it always thrills him, then his wings whisk him off to where the next straw awaits.


Satin Bower Bird - linocut

Satin Bower Bird – Hand coloured linocut on handmade Japanese paper by Rachel Newling

Here’s a YouTube video clip that catches the spirit of things—a must-see, especially if you’re not familiar with the Australian satin bowerbird. They are sometimes called the most complex of birds, and you can see why. Click here.

Bowerbirds aren’t rare in this part of the world, but I can tell you, it’s a wonder to have one in our gardens!


3 thoughts on “My space

  1. Dearest Heather: I just loved this story. I am totally enamoured with the birdlife in Oz, never mind seeing the ‘ not so wee’ Joey’s in Mama Roo’s belly…. and the pythons. Sending love from autumnal Ontario. Mia xx

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