Difficult family dramas of love, grief and deceit
I had never met a channel-billed cuckoo before moving to Sydney. For the last few months, these huge, strange birds have been sweeping the skies and gathering in the large trees near my home in the city’s south. I quickly became mesmerised by their unusual behaviours, noticing that sometimes they are very loud and visible, at other times they hide silently in dense foliage.
I began wondering about the experience of brood parasitism. I wonder about the identity transformation the cuckoo fledgeling must undergo, how the flock must have practices for finding its young and guiding them through that transformation. I wonder about the many complicated family tragedies that follow in the wake of these birds. Every fledgling cuckoo will wear out its parents before abandoning them. Does the currawong parent feel rent – on the one hand confused and grieving that her only child from a season’s toil was perhaps some terrible deceit – on the other hand strangely connected to the cuckoos – always caring for them somewhat, those strange children, living otherways with their chosen kin? Cuckoo and currawong know each other well around here, these species are strange family, entangled through generations of deceit, exploitation, abandonment, grief, and love.
Author Bio: Kate is always observing the interactions and patterns of nature. Recently settling in Sydney, she is loving exploring the city’s waterways and bushland.