2016—Bob Bob Bobbin’ Along
That old Al Jolson song, Red Red Robin came to mind every time I saw this little Eastern Yellow Robin bob bob bobbin’ along in the Australian rainforest and I wondered about his yellow breast. I know that the American Robin of song is really a thrush and this little bird doesn’t really look much like an American Robin. The Eastern Yellow Robin is one of about seventeen bird species in Australia that are commonly called “robin.” Curious about this, I found an explanation that sounds plausible. The English apparently extended their empire to flora and fauna, giving names to species in their colonies that were similar to species with which they had familiarity. The European Robin has a red breast and so the ubiquitous American red breasted bird was dubbed a robin even though it is a thrush. The same happened in Australia. Many birds there were called robins, some with red breasts and some with other colored breasts. After centuries, the common names of these birds has remained. The bottom line, I guess, is that except for being birds, there is little similarity between the American Robin and the Australian Eastern Yellow Robin. The little yellow bird was a common sight in the rain forest and they were not skittish or afraid of us. They seemed curious and often hung around nearby in the trees while we were photographing other birds. Again, I think it was because they were so used to humans and the potential for a handout that they had lost their fear of humans.