A few days ago I met this delightful little bird through unfortunate circumstances; I was driving to work fairly early in the morning (about 7.30am-ish) and listening to a talking book on the car stereo (Terry Pratchett of course). Seemingly out of nowhere there was a soft thump on the driver’s side window, right at eye level. I said a word Sir Terry would not have approved of (if only because it was unimaginative) and looked in the rear view mirror to see a little dark spot flapping about on the road.
I pulled over and walked back, expecting the worst (the spot really was tiny) only to find a stunned little bird looking at me as if he might be going to keel over at any moment. I picked him up, holding him safe and dark in one hand while I walked back to the car, searched for something to put him in and said another unimaginative word at not finding anything. Eventually I emptied all the knitting from my zip up knitting bag and popped him into it.
I took him to work and found a box for him to stay in with a shallow dish of water. During the day he could be heard trying to get out of the box so I knew he was alright.
After work I drove back to where we had first met and gave him a quick check in the car to be sure he didn’t have any terrible injuries. No broken bones, no air sack damage, just a knock to the head. So I snapped a few photos and let him fly away to tell stories about the time he was kidnapped by humans but managed to escape because he is the most amazing bird in existence.
It was then that I realised I needed to look up what, exactly, my little friend was. I have never seen these little fellows before. This is strange because they are not rare and live in environments very similar to that around the humpy. I flicked through my bird field guide using my prior knowledge to narrow down the options;
- His feet have both forward and backwards facing toes; he is a passerine species (feet adapted to perching).
- He has a thin, short beak; he is primarily an insectivore (eats mostly insects).
- He has wide, soft flight feathers, and his wings are short compared to his body. He also has a long fanning tail with strong feathers; he can take off fast and steer very effectively on the wing, he most likely hunts his food in the air.
All these points (plus the fact that he is small and was found in grass land with a few trees) told me to look in the wren, fantail, weebill section of my field guide.
There I found the Grey Fantail. They are such sweet little birds, apparently fairly curious and unafraid (when not suffering from concussion). I am glad I got to meet this little fellow, I just wish it had been in my garden rather than in my car.