In great news for ornithological enthusiasts, Guardian Australia’s Bird of the Year 2021 poll is back. The contest is also great news for politicians, who use it to align themselves with the strongest, cleverest or prettiest birds, hoping to co-opt their appeal.
Here at Crikey, we have no time for such cynicism, so rather than the political class getting the bird they want we’re giving them the one they deserve. (And yes, these are all based on real birds.)
Barnaby Joyce — Red-rumped bush tyrant
This rambunctious New England gobbler is best known for its rambling, erratic song and unquenchable thirst for fermented fruit and berries.
Scott Morrison — Monotonous lark
Although the Monotonous lark is technically a bird, it doesn’t flap a wing, build a nest, catch a worm or sing a song. Despite this lack of effort or capacity, it parades and preens as though it was king of the canopy.
Anthony Albanese — Sad flycatcher
This short-beaked battler is on the endangered list in rural NSW and Queensland. These days it’s found almost exclusively in inner-city areas near good schools. In the absence of an interesting call, the Sad flycatcher relies on its distinctive traditional red-and-green colouring to attract mates.
Adam Bandt — Common loon
Like its nemesis the Sad flycatcher, this green-hued scavenger never ventures far from the better inner-city areas. It spends its days foraging in garbage bins — not for food but to check that the organic vegetable waste and pinot bottles have been placed in the correct receptacles.
Bridget McKenzie — Noisy scrub-bird
A sturdy detritivore found primarily in and around recently renovated shooting ranges in rural Australia. A tenacious forager, its nest is often full to overflowing with food that it trades for favours from birds in other marginal ecosystems.
Christian Porter — Parasitic jaeger
Our lawyers have advised us to simply and respectfully point out that the Parasitic jaeger is among the most litigious birds in Australia.
Greg Hunt — Little bustard
Native to Victoria, the Little bustard spends long periods preening its basic plumage and warbling drab songs. Everywhere it goes people say, “What’s that Little bustard doing here?”
Matt Canavan — Noisy miner
A rarity in the bird world, this feathered friend spends enormous amounts of time underground, and is prone to disguising itself in the plumage of more hardworking birds.
George Christensen — Hoary puffleg
This robust migratory hunter spends its life soaring between far north Queensland and downtown Manila. It eats whatever the hell it wants.
Craig Kelly — Tiny sky tyrant
A belligerent NSW bird known for passive anting — a self-anointing behaviour during which birds rub ants, millipedes and horse-worming medication on to their feathers and skin.
Michaelia Cash — Horned screamer
The Horned screamer is a colourful desert bird native to Western Australia. As the name suggests, it has a unique call, often described as a cockatoo crossed with a death metal singer.
Peter Dutton — Satanic nightjar
This much-feared apex predator has more residual dinosaur DNA in its make-up than any other bird. According to ancient legend, anyone who stares into its eyes as it sings will be accursed forever.
Peta Credlin — Dracula parrot
This darkly impressive nocturnal predator patrols the forest perimeter in search of birds who have lost their way and need to be guided back to the correct path. This guiding rends the evening calm, causing panic among smaller, weaker birds.
Mark Dreyfus — Sombre tit
With its extreme reticence, drab colouring and indistinct song, some in the birding community argue this bird doesn’t exist because they’ve never encountered it.
Feeling a little ornithological? We’d be very happy to cast an eye over your bird species and its political equivalent, so send yours to [email protected].