The Rare Goordybird

Mike Oxley

Cornwall Ontario, Canada

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Artist's Description

Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
October 22, 2011

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Please take a moment to read the full description and story of this very rare find. Thanks!

It’s been a pretty dismal week in the Tropics of Eastern Ontario. Nothing but rain, rain and more rain, with the odd bit of very high winds just to liven things up. Still, it could be worse. It could be snowing. The Sister and Bro in law have buggered of to Mont Tremblant for the weekend, so, of course, Auld Unkie has been tasked with feeding the bloody cats. I was just getting ready to head over when something prompted me to throw the camera into the back of the car. Must have been camera withdrawal. I arrived at Riverdale Avenue, and, upon exiting the car, I heard some weird chirping and rustling from the small crab apple tree in the front yard. Looking over, I spotted a green and yellow shape peering out at me from amongst the branches. I grabbed the gear, went into stealth mode and approached the tree. The bird I found was so engrossed in watching its nest and having the odd snack, it ignored me completely, so I was able to get quite close and get some shots of it. It moved around the yard a bit and I was also able to get some shots of its unusual behaviour.

When I got back home, I did some research to find out what species it was.

With many thanks to Mickeypedia:

The rare Goordybird Avifauna Cucurbitaceae. Also known as the Calabash Canary

General appearance and habitat.

The extremely rare Goordybird is a smallish bird, about the size of an English Blackbird or North American Robin. Its overall colouring is yellow with the occasional green marking. It can be recognized by the bumps and grooves in its skin, shortened wings and a set of prehensile flaps on its underbelly, instead of feet. This arrangement affords it greater clinging power on branches.

It inhabits a tiny area of Eastern Ontario, namely the gardens on the corner of Riverdale Avenue and Grant Street in Cornwall. It only appears for a brief period in mid October and ornithologists believe this is due to the readily available hiding spots. Please see “camouflage” below.

Nesting and reproduction.

The Goordybird does not build a conventional nest, but uses dried out decorative seed pods, conveniently placed in the forks of crabapple trees. It lays four to six eggs, with a very thin foil-like shell and a very interesting chocolate-like interior. One reason the bird is rare is the fact that children find the eggs irresistible and often raid the nests.


Crabapples. All that’s available in its territory in late October. Although it will enjoy the odd finger of any child that tries to rob its nest. Note how well the prehensile flaps cling to the branch.


The Goordybird relies on the festive fall spirit of the homeowners and can be found hiding in the seasonal decorations on many doorsteps. Can you spot it amongst the squash this homeowner has used to tart up a hay bale? Very effective, eh?

Behaviour Under threat

When seriously threatened, it will hide in the planters filled with tired and bedraggled Chrysanthemums that are lined up on so many homeowner’s front steps. Here it is, seeing if the coast is clear.

Goordybirds are not afraid of humans.

The original shot was taken with a Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 17 to 70 at 35 mm
iso 100, multi-pattern metering, Aperture Priority F9.0, 1/25 second

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