Dom ‘Furious’ George: ‘Stalin of the skies’ gets my vote

I have a candidate for Bird of the Year; it’s called the red-vented bulbul. Say it out loud – it sounds great, if not a little dodgy.

We all know the scandal that emerged from last year’s annual Bird of the Year competition – the mighty Kea was robbed by an underhanded campaign from a 16-year-old Kokako sycophant who was at the forefront of a lobby group that heralded the supposed virtues of the bird’s heavenly singing voice.

Fair play to the group, but this year I think the bulbul should be in the running.
The red-vented bulbul is quite an ugly, scrawny little thing that’s been described as an “aggressive pest bird”.

You can listen to Dom and Jane discuss the Red-vented bubul in the audio clip above.

When I first heard that phrase from online producer Hanoi Jane I thought she was referring to my wife.

She assured me she wasn’t, but it got me thinking about the other aggressive pest birds in my life. Most of them have been teachers and most of them were at primary school.

They were the sort of teachers nearly everyone’s had at one point or another; disgruntled, bad-tempered old biddies whose enthusiasm for the profession had shortened at the same rate as their fuse. I could mention the villainous nature of one former principal but to be honest, that person doesn’t deserve to be written about.

Let’s just say she bore a striking resemblance to the cartoon version of Cruella de Vil, although her evil streak was a lot worse than the fictitious character.

Still, the effect was to make the ones who still had the desire to do their job stand out like the proverbial. Case is point for me was Mrs Haynes. To a young set of primary school eyes she looked like she was a hundred years old if she was a day, but she had the ability to pique the interest of her underlings.

As a youngster I was a cricket tragic – an insufferable bore who studied every aspect of the game morning, noon and night. When it came time to write stories I would immaculately produce cricket scorecards of fictitious matches, with impeccably drawn columns for overs, maidens, runs and wickets.

I was under the impression this was fiction writing at its finest; cobbling together cricketing XI’s from around the globe and matching them against each other at the famous venues of the world. Come on, it was the mid-eighties in South Dunedin!

The point is, Mrs Haynes saw where my interest lay and started introducing me to the world of cricket literature. The first book she lent me was Jeremy Coney’s, ‘The Playing Mantis’, quite a weighty tome for a first delve into autobiography, but I read it cover to cover nonetheless.

From there my father started buying me books like the 80s staple, ‘The Crowe Style’, where it showed you the correct footwork for dancing down the wicket!

I digress – in fact I’ve almost derailed. I was talking birds. Bird of the Year… the red-vented bulbul… the aggressive pest bird! Apparently MPI is offering a thousand dollars to any sighting of the bird in Bay of Plenty that leads to a capture.

They want to eradicate the introduced bird that ravages fruit and vege crops and carries out vicious attacks on native New Zealand birds.

They’re described as dark brown/grey coloured, about the size of a starling with a Mohawk-like hairdo and a distinctive crimson-red patch of feathers beneath their tails. Successful eliminations of the bird have been carried out in the past and MPI and DOC are looking to repeat the dose.

It’s thought the latest arrivals are stowaways from Australia or the Pacific Islands; illegal immigrants, as it were. Now they’re being hunted down and killed, with price tags on their heads like they’re outlaws in the Wild West.

I say these belligerent, crop-ravaging pests should be considered candidates for greater recognition. We may not like them, but they’re certainly having an impact. Just as the likes of Hitler, Stalin and George W. Bush have all been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year, this winged pest deserves to be in the conversation for Bird of the Year.

After all, the red-vented bulbul has created headlines, headaches and manhunts; and that seems to befit the times quite nicely.

Source: New Zealand Herald