Beauty in Colour and Greyscale

Birds in the rain

Bronwen Scott

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Rainbow Bee-eater, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland. © Bronwen Scott

On a day that couldn’t choose between mist and showers, two birds arrived: one with prismatic plumage, the other monochrome. Perched on a licorice twist cable, they ignored the rain beading on their feathers.

Black-faced Cuckooshrike, Atherton Tablelands, FNQ. © Bronwen Scott

Rainbow Bee-eater are summer birds. They chase insects, catching them in flight. Small flocks of them perform aerobatics over parks and paddocks. Sun makes their colours glow: morning orange, midday blue, new leaf green and midnight black. Their rolling trill is a sound of warm, clear days. Sometimes of rainy days too.

When a Black-faced Cuckooshrike lands, it shuffles its wings in a way that looks part dance, part preen. Cuckooshrikes are aerial hunters too, but also eat berries. They arrive in small flocks when the Bleeding Heart Trees are in fruit. Their black and grey plumage is sleek and immaculate — although sometimes the weather takes a toll. What they lack in bright colours, they make up for in elegance.

Both birds stayed for a while, waiting for the rain to clear and the sun to bring out insects from the trees. Beauty comes in all styles and all weathers.

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Bronwen Scott

Zoologist, writer, artist, museum fan, enjoying life in the tropical rainforest of Far North Queensland. She/her. Website: bronwenscott.com