Australia is full of surprises sound-wise, not only yielding an abundance of beautiful and musical bird songs, but also laughable songs that border on the improbable, ridiculous, or absurd. Of all the sound delights that have come my way thus far during my journey Down Under, the silly chatterings and tootings of a group of Noisy Friarbirds are laughable in the extreme, bringing a smile and a chuckle to my face as I eavesdrop on their sweetly-intimate conversations:
Chatterings and tootings of Noisy Friarbirds. Recorded by Lang Elliott at dawn, 13 October 2012, Tammallallie National Park near Coonabarabran, New South Wales.
As usual, when I made this recording, I had no idea what bird was producing these endearing sounds. I must admit that I laughed out loud when I learned they were Friarbirds and saw Carl’s excellent photo … OMG, what a goofy looking bald-headed bird! This prompted me to give it my own name, The Silly-Sounding Goofbird, no doubt dreamt into existence by an Aborigine with an imaginative sense of humor.
The Noisy Friarbird (Philemon corniculatus) is a member of the honeyeater family and can be recognized by it’s naked black head (like our vultures back home) and the prominent knob near the beak. Preferring dry forests and scrubby heathlands, friarbirds feed in flocks and are usually quite noisy. The common call of the species is a loud chick-wow or churrick, heard at times in the above recording, and featured below:
Signature call of the Noisy Friarbird. Recorded by Lang Elliott at dusk, 12 October 2012, Tammallallie National Park near Coonabarabran, New South Wales.
Birds like the Noisy Friarbird draw me ever so deeply into the amazing Australian soundscape, which is quite unlike anywhere else on earth. Even the creatively fertile Peruvian Amazon would have trouble voicing anything quite so charming as the Friarbird’s silly-sounding performance.