As I look out of my window at my desk, I hear a glorious high-pitched shriek. There – at the top of the tallest fir tree – are five yellow-tailed black cockatoos.
The birds leap into flight, careening through the air with a devil-may-care path. They swoop over my window with their yellow cheek patches flashing like a logo on a fighter jet. Their beaks open in a classic cockatoo smile.
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen them this winter in Melbourne, but still something leaps in my chest, not unlike joy.
The first time was at the beginning of June. Our building’s gate wouldn’t open and we had to make an impromptu walk through Yarra Bend park. My mood was bitter and cross.
Suddenly, soaring across the trees, a flock of fifteen yellow-black cockatoos screamed into sight like a noisy team of gulls. They flew across the property and looped back into the park.
We raced after them – forgetting our earlier irritation with the gate – and ran across the wet grass. They settled in a group of eucalypts and turned perfectly silent, listening to the bark for tasty grubs.
Each time I see these birds, I experience the exhilaration of flight, because in Australia you don’t need any wings at all to fly.