The Birds and the Bugs

Before we came to Sydney, I had this recurring, haunting, vision.

The professor would go to work, and I would be in the kitchen, finishing up breakfast dishes. Then it would appear, seemingly out of nowhere: The biggest spider that I had ever seen.

Armed with a tupperware and a creeping sense of doom, I would cower in the corner of our luxury rental apartment on the beach, waiting all day for rescue. I just wouldn’t have the stones to confront the beast.

So that scenario hasn’t happened (Me? Do dishes? In a luxury apartment on the beach? Only in my dreams, sadly). But you bet there are bugs here. Look, its a tropical paradise down here, so of course the bugs all look like they are on steroids. Thank you evolution and isolation!

Okay, so here are some of the highlights we have seen so far.

At the Sydney Wildlife Zoo:


Sweet, twittering little zebra finches. The males are the ones with red cheeks.


This gorgeous bird is the double-wattled Cassowary. They are the third largest bird in the world (behind their relatives the Ostrich and the Emu), but as you can see, they are the most fabulous.




Kookaburras are native to Australia and best known for their call, which sounds like a demented laughing hyena. Because they can be found anywhere from rain forests to cities, we humans can get in their way, sadly. This bird was rescued by the Sydney Wildlife Zoo after being hit by a car. She can’t fly anymore, but poses beautifully for photos on this here log.


This more able bodied Kookabura paid us a visit in our garden one day. I think they have creepy killer eyes, but their fluffy squatness makes them look like a snuggly stuffed animal.


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We see parrots everywhere around Australia, but this was our first sighting of Princess parrots.


Such princesses. Just check out that plumage!


These are Lorikeets, they are everywhere around Sydney.  I loved them… until I found out that they are the ones who ate all of the almonds off the tree in our backyard. Nah I still love them, but I won’t trust them around my nuts anymore…

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This is George the Cockatoo. He is the honorary owner of legendary Friend in Hand Pub in Glebe. George runs the place, and by that he means he does whatever he wants. In my experience so far, Cockatoos are gorgeous creatures but they have a bad attitude and a serious case of vocal fry (I can think of a few people I know who I’ll now call ‘the Cockatoo’ from now on).


A Crested pigeon. Even the street pigeons here are bad ass. I mean, check out that mohawk.


I have to be careful not to run into these orb weavers! One likes to set up shop right outside our door at night, and then clears off in the morning before it gets too hot. They are virtually harmless, but big and creepy, like all spiders are to me.

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I heard all about how I would run in to the Huntsman spider while I was here, but it was two months in until I saw my first one. This little guy was living in our grill, and was stubborn to leave. P. had to simulate a thunderstorm (as in, spray him away with a hose) so we could reclaim our barbecue. We haven’t seen him since but suspect he is plotting his return in a mint bushel somewhere. They are harmless house spiders, just really big and hairy so they have a bad reputation. What I can’t handle (besides their size), is that they are so damn fast!

I’ll leave you with the source of all of my nightmares.

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