The above photo of a Gouldian Finch in an aviary in the Adelaide Zoo, South Australia is not a good one.
Sure – it shows some of the brilliant colours of this magnificent species, but the bird in question would not turn to face me. I had enough problems focussing on the birds through the black wire netting of the aviary, only to add to my angst when the bird would not pose appropriately for me. Nor would any of the other finches in this cage despite waiting a considerable time for them to settle. They were all very flighty and more concerned about flying around than posing for me.
Next time… I hope.
The beautiful Red-billed Fire Finch is found in southern Africa. The above photo was taken in our local zoo in Adelaide, South Australia.
There are many spectacular and beautiful birds in Africa. The weaver family of birds are among the more colourful and interesting of them. Adelaide Zoo in South Australia – my home zoo – has a small collection of Grenadier Weavers, as shown in today’s photos. The colourful male is a spectacular bird indeed, especially when in breeding plumage which ranges from bright orange through to red.
Of peculiar interest in relation to this species is a closely related species, the Red Bishopbird. This member of the finch family, also native to Africa, is a commonly kept aviary bird. In the 1920s some of these either escaped or were released from captivity not more than 20km from where I live. A small population survived along the banks of the River Murray for some years, and they were even featured in some earlier field guides. This small population has obviously died out as there have been no reports of any birds since the late 1950s.
Just as we were leaving our hotel in Casablanca on our visit there last year, I saw this bird in a tree across the road. A quick snap before getting on the bus was all I could achieve, not even time to get out the binoculars. I suspect it is a female House Sparrow; it certainly looks like one. The species is quite common in many parts of Morocco, so I am fairly confident that is what it is.
If any of my readers has more experience of the birds of Morocco than me, or if you disagree with my ID, please leave a comment. I could have enlarged the image digitally, but the result would prove to be too blurry to be helpful.
I will post more about Moroccan birds in the coming days.
Update: March 1st, 2016: one of my readers has confirmed this as a House Sparrow – but a male. On looking again at the photo, I would have to agree.
I’ve just discovered another lovely photo that I took of this beautiful species, shown above. This species was quite common in the grounds of the school where my daughter was teaching last year so I managed a few good shots. I’m not sure about when they breed but this individual seemed intent on taking this feather with it. I can’t recall if I watched where it went.