From Vol. 9: Two Bird Quizzes by Rose Hunter

Albatross Quiz

Various species of albatross can
a. circumnavigate the globe
b. fly to the moon
c. become curses and symbols of atonement

To make it through the doldrums, albatrosses must
a. be one of the smaller species
b. use more energy
c. acquire a positive attitude; push through it

Those who have not seen an albatross in the flesh include
a. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
b. Carl Linnaeus
c. Charles Baudelaire

Albatrosses are persistent followers of ships because
a. they are not show-offs
b. there is garbage and scraps to feed on
c. they contain the souls of drowned sailors

The courtship dance of the albatross is a coordinated routine that includes
a. vibrating the beak like chattering dentures
b. clicking the beak against the beak of the other bird, shaking the head, tucking it under one wing; braying like a donkey, trumpeting like an elephant, lifting the head and hooting at the sky
c. Amsterdam, Antipodean, wandering, waved, shy

Once albatrosses choose their life partners, they
a. stop dancing
b. start talking
c. span oceans and decades

After their journeys, albatross pairs
a. have no problems showing up at the same place at the same time; finding each other
b. have a lot to tell about their adventures
c. do not worry about what their mates got up to

During nesting albatrosses spend a lot of time apart because
a. they take turns incubating the egg while the other returns to sea for food
b. the distance thing works for them
c. they are kinsmen in the clouds

Albatrosses have been considered
a. good luck
b. bad luck if you kill one
c. poétes maudits

A poéte maudit is
a. an accursed poet
b. an at-risk bird group
c. a grief ritual

Accounts by early European visitors focused on
a. the bird’s size
b. the tastiness of its flesh
c. its trusting nature, which they regarded as idiotic

The albatross was additionally said to be
a. so bloodthirsty it would tear out the eyes of a drowning man
b. a decent lifebuoy
c. able to carry messages from shipwrecked crew

The image of an albatross hanging around a neck
a. indicates the physical and moral world
b. is a reminder that the planet is in a state of emergency
c. Coleridge must not have known the size of the fowl, Hawthorne said

Dangers to albatrosses in the past included
a. hungry sailors
b. bloodthirsty sailors
c. photographic albumen prints

Dangers to albatrosses today include
a. introduced species such as rats and feral cats on nesting islands
b. longline fishing
c. ocean plastic

Dead albatrosses have been found with the following in their stomachs
a. toothbrushes, lighters, toys, bottle tops, biros, fish-shaped soy sauce bottles; an inkjet cartridge, bags
b. twine, Styrofoam, candy wrappers, bottle caps, small figurines
c. a heart-shaped locket filled with glitter and water

* “kinsman in the clouds:” from Baudelaire, Charles. “The Albatross.” Flowers of Evil, translated by James McGowan, Oxford UP, 1993, p. 17.
* “a grief ritual” & “toothbrushes, lighters, toys….” Turns, Anna. “Saving the Albatross.” The Guardian, 12 Mar. 2018,

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/12/albatross-film-dead-chicks-plastic-saving-birds.
* “so bloodthirsty it will …” John Gould, qtd. in Barwell, Graham. Albatross. Reaktion Books, 2013, p. 41.
* life buoy: “one desperate seaman who fell off his ship in 1881 saved his life by drowning an albatross and using its body as a lifebuoy” (Barwell 4).
* able to carry messages from shipwrecked crew: “The men of the French ship Tamaris, which was wrecked off one of the western islands in the Crozet Group … caught an albatross and fitted a tin band around its neck. Letters punched into the band stated where they were marooned and gave the date as 4 August 1887. Remarkably, this albatross then flew 5,700 km east to Western Australia, where it was found dead on a beach at North Fremantle” (Barwell 39–40).
* Barwell 46: “Coleridge must not have known …”
* “small figurines, a heart-shaped locket filled with glitter and water:” Alvarez, Alayna. “On a Remote Island, Baby Albatrosses Suffer from a Diet of Plastic Trash,” Oceana, 1 Aug. 2017,
https://oceana.org/blog/remote-island-baby-albatrosses-suffer-diet-plastic-trash.

Australian Brush Turkey Quiz

The brush turkey lives
a. in eastern Australia
b. in sclerophyll forests
c. on the other picnic table, overseeing

The brush turkey’s wattle is
a. a thick-swaying from side to side; the pendulum of a cuckoo clock
b. smaller on the female
c. forget about buying shoes at regular stores

A wattle in general is
a. an ornament to attract potential mates
b. still, I pinch mine and wonder
c. a polyphyletic genus of shrubs

The brush turkey’s tail is
a. something flattened between palms lovingly; patty-caked
b. rudder-like
c. standing up to attention

The social skills of the brush turkey are
a. mediocre at best
b. terrible, but you can’t blame them, considering their upbringing
c. the strategic placement of a large mirror can discourage them

Some people consider these birds to be vile and hideous
a. never mind these people
b. projection is a problem for many
c. what other people think of you is none of your business

Brush turkeys were nearly wiped out in the 1930s because
a. they were a source of meat and eggs during the Great Depression
b. the egg is 80% yolk; tasty and calorific
c. the Country Women’s Association had recipes for brush turkey omelet

The influx of brush turkeys into many Sydney suburbs in particular can be explained by
a. the birds gaining legal protection in the 1970s
b. a reduction in the fox population
c. the current fashion for more wildlife-friendly gardens

The male brush turkey creates a mound for the female to lay her eggs in; these mounds are
a. as big as cars
b. compost heaps that generate heat to incubate the eggs
c. laid in by more than one female

What can you do if a brush turkey chooses a corner of your yard to construct its mound?
a. you don’t have a yard and never will
b. point out that your neighbor’s yard is much better, location-wise
c. enjoy the miracle

A brush turkey creating a mound looks like
a. someone who won’t take off his fancy scarf; tip-toes around it as it jangles about, totally in the way
b. a real kicker
c. all you see is stuff flying through the air

How do brush turkeys know if the mound is the right temperature?
a. their beaks are also thermometers
b. trial and error, e.g. if too many males hatch it must have been on the cool side; make a note for next year
c. educated guessing

Temperature regulation of the mound is the only assistance offered to chicks. This approach to parenting can be described as
a. a welcome correction for helicopter parenting
b. primitive nesting behavior
c. live and let live

Chicks
a. use their claws to tunnel through a meter of dirt and compost to reach the surface
b. are able to fly right away
c. do not care to know their siblings due to the non-social nature of their life so far

Brush turkeys emerging from the mound look like
a. spurts from a little brown Vesuvius
b. baby turtles rushing toward a non-existent ocean
c. serious scuttlebutt

The experience of a brush turkey chick might be like
a. being unburied into life
b. a turning in the dark turning
c. a sudden miracle into the light

A brush turkey chick looks like
a. a brown snowball
b. a bill-less kiwi
c. roundly, a brown dream

* “as big as cars” & “the Country Women’s Association” from Anna Salleh, “Five Reasons to Love Brush Turkeys.” ABC News, 17 Jan. 2017,
http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2017-01-17/five-reasons-to-love-brush-turkeys/7199724.

Rose Hunter’s first book of poetry, glass, was published by Five Islands Press (Australia) in 2017, and her second book, Anchorage, was published by HVTN Press (UK, 2020). From Australia, she lived in Canada for ten years and now tries to divide her time between Australia and Mexico. She was once a finalist in a Heavy Feather chapbook competition. Links to her books and writing can be found at rosehunterblog.wordpress.com.

Image: animals.sandiegozoo.org

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