Let me tell you about the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata).
My guidebook tells me its voice is described as being like that of a toy trumpet. It forages on the ground and its habitat is always near water, in grasslands or open woodlands/shrublands/scrubs. In orchards and gardens you may also sight one or ten. Its nest is described as being untidy to the human eye and it resembles a dome of grass and twigs and rootlets. The nest is lined with feathers and plant down and fur in shrubs, hollow branches, termite mounds or the re-purposed nest of a babbler, which doesn't sound so very untidy to me. Their eggs are pale blue in hue, and their range is mainland Australia and islands.
They are, as regular readers will know, currently catching their breath at Milly Sleeping's Carlton store in Elgin street for a little while longer than scheduled. Hop to it!
On a similar winged note, as Gracia cuts out collage pieces, I am looking at murmurations of starlings. So very beautiful.
Murmurations: Spectacular Starlings Signal Winter Is On Its Way
No one knows why they do it. Yet each fall, thousands of starlings dance in the twilight above Gretna, Scotland. The birds gather in magical shape-shifting flocks called murmurations, having migrated in the millions from Russia and Scandinavia to escape winter’s bite. Scientists aren’t sure how they do it, either. Even complex algorithmic models haven’t yet explained the starlings’ acrobatics, which rely on the tiny bird’s quicksilver reaction time of under 100 milliseconds to avoid aerial collisions—and predators—in the giant flock. Despite their show of force in the dusky sky, starlings have declined significantly in the UK in recent years, perhaps because of a drop in nesting sites. The birds still roost in several of Britain’s rural pastures, however, settling down to sleep (and chatter) after the evening’s ballet.
(Sonia van Gilder Cooke is a reporter in TIME’s London Bureau.)