“My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature…..Claude Monet.”
“Adapt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m still trying to make up my mind as to whether the Tawnys’ are ugly or exotically beautiful but whatever, they are certainly unusual.
These nocturnal birds which are native to mainland Australia and Tasmania are often mistaken for an owl but are in fact more closely related to the Nightjar. They are stocky and compact with rounded wings and short legs and generally weigh between 157 – 555 grams and measure 34 -53 cm. Their bills are hooked at the tip and topped with distinctive tufts. They have large yellow eyes similar to owls.
Are they dangerous? I have on occasions approached to within 50 cm or so without them showing any concern or aggression whatsoever, relying instead on their extremely good camouflage. I have come across them in parks and private gardens.
The birds mate for life and it is not unusual to see them roosting in pairs on low lying branches or in the fork of a tree.
If you happen to be in Australia, settling in for the night and hear this strange Oom -Oom – Oom grunting, it’s a safe bet that you have a Tawny Frogmouth or two in close proximity.
“Courtesy gives it’s owner a passport round the world. It transmutes aliens into trusting friends…..James Thomas Fields.
“Who stuffed that white owl?
No one spoke in the shop, The barber was busy, and he couldn’t stop; The customers, waiting their turns, were all reading The “Daily,” the “Herald,” the “Post,” little heeding The young man who blurted out such a blunt question; Not one raised a head, or even made a suggestion; And the barber kept on shaving.
“Don’t you see, Mr. Brown,” Cried the youth, with a frown, “How wrong the whole thing is, How preposterous each wing is, How flattened the head is, how jammed down the neck is — In short, the whole owl, what an ignorant wreck ‘t is! I make no apology; I’ve learned owl-eology.
I’ve passed days and nights in a hundred collections, And cannot be blinded to any deflections Arising from unskilful fingers that fail To stuff a bird right, from his beak to his tail. Mister Brown! Mr. Brown! Do take that bird down, Or you’ll soon be the laughingstock all over town!” And the barber kept on shaving.
“I’ve studied owls, And other night-fowls, And I tell you What I know to be true; An owl cannot roost With his limbs so unloosed; No owl in this world Ever had his claws curled, Ever had his legs slanted, Ever had his bill canted, Ever had his neck screwed Into that attitude. He cant do it, because ‘Tis against all bird-laws.
Anatomy teaches, Ornithology preaches, An owl has a toe That can’t turn out so! I’ve made the white owl my study for years, And to see such a job almost moves me to tears! Mr. Brown, I’m amazed You should be so gone crazed As to put up a bird In that posture absurd! To look at that owl really brings on a dizziness; The man who stuffed him don’t half know his business!” And the barber kept shaving.
“Examine those eyes I’m filled with surprise Taxidermists should pass Off on you such poor glass; So unnatural they seem They’d make Audubon scream, And John Burroughs laugh To encounter such chaff. Do take that bird down; Have him stuffed again, Brown!” And the barber kept on shaving!
“With some sawdust and bark I could stuff in the dark An owl better than that. I could make an old hat Look more like an owl Than that horrid fowl, Stuck up there so stiff like a side of coarse leather. In fact, about him there’s not one natural feather.”
Just then, with a wink and a sly normal lurch, The owl, very gravely, got down from his perch, Walked around, and regarded his fault-finding critic (Who thought he was stuffed) with a glance analytic, And then fairly hooted, as if he should say: “Your learning’s at fault this time, anyway: Don’t waste it again on a live bird, I pray. I’m an owl; you’re another. Sir Critic, good day!” And the barber kept on shaving.
James Thomas Fields was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. His father was a sea captain and died before Fields was three. At the age of 14, Fields took a job at the Old Corner Bookstore in Boston. Afterwards, he wrote for the newspapers, and in 1835, he read an anniversary poem entitled Commerce before the Boston Mercantile Library Association.
Fields wrote the following poems: The Lucky Horseshoe; The Lover’s Peril; Patient Mercy Jones; The Captain’s Daughter; Common Sense; With Wordsworth at Rydal.
As with the first poem posted, I was brought up with this poem, only this time it was recited by my father.
” When the crow says an intelligent thing, chickens may laugh at it. This is the laughing of the sand castles at the powerful waves…..Mehmet Murat Ildan
Three Black Crows…
Three black crows sat on a tree,
They were as black, as black as crows could be.
Faark, Faark, Faark.
Said one black crow unto the others
“Where shall we dine today my brothers?”
Faark, Faark, Faark
“On yonder hill’s an old grey mare.
I think we might as well dine there”.
Faark, Faark, Faark.
They perched upon her high backbone,
And picked her eyes out one by one.
Said the second black crow unto the other,
“Isn’t she a tough old bugger”
Faark, Faark, Faark.
Up come a squatter with his gun,
And shot them all excepting one.
Now that one black crow got such a fright,
He turned from black right into white.
That is why you’ll often see
A white crow perched upon the tree.
I first heard “Three Black Crows” recited back in the 1950’s . A family friend by the name of Billy Monteith, an old ringer/drover from North Queensland, used to recite it, and I never forgot it. Every time I see or hear a crow and there’re a lot around here, I think of old Billy and his ballad.