It was the yellow I saw first. A yellow-headed bird. He had his back to us, and his shoulders and the back of his head were this startling yellow. A bright butter yellow on this dull, wet morning. The night’s rain hadn’t exhausted the clouds, and they drifted around the trees and houses as mist, making everything subdued, flatter, slower. The moist air was chilly; almost startling after the heat of the last few days.
We were out the back of the house we were sitting, sharing a cup of tea on the little garden bench under the eaves. The backyard fell away down the slope and the low, misty clouds flowed around the trees and over the lawns. Suddenly my partner pointed to this vividly coloured parrot perched a few metres away that neither one of us had noticed. He’d been there when we came out and only after we’d started to relax did he become apparent. A parrot with a yellow head and shoulders and a lower half of deep dark blue. Like someone had draped a silk hood of shimmering yellow over a jacket of dark blue feathers. We started talking about what sort of photo we could take. You wanted to include the lawn’s generous harvest of dandelions, the little yellow starbursts waving in a sea of grass leaves. I was keener on a good zoom lens shot.
As the conversation meandered we intermittently admired the parrot as he perched there on the fence, flamboyant and watchful. Suddenly there was a neat stretch of wing-feathers and we saw a flash of more colours. Then the parrot stretched his other wing; a smooth snap of feathers that happened in a blink. “Was there some red there?” my partner wondered.
The parrot abrubtly turned around, pirouetting in a moment. Before the small bird had been tantalising us, looking over his shoulder. Now, here he was in all his glory: his face was pale yellow, and his breast and waistcoat and outside wings were lapus lazuli, shot through with a royal dark blue. And behind his legs, the underside of his tail was a dark red, unexpectedly vivid against the blue. “He’s got three colours!” we exclaimed, delighted at this splendid fellow’s display on this chilly Maleny morning. And he perched and watched and waited, as birds do on cold mornings, hoping for something other than wet and cold to appear.
Then he shifted and for a moment he was like a swimmer on the starting block, poised and intent. And then bang! the wings flare out, the legs straighten and this bundle of feathered colour leaps into a beautiful blurred arc that takes him to a higher perch in a nearby pine tree. We look up at him now, as he surveys and preens. Our conversation meanders on until at one point we notice he is gone. Now there’s just the fence and the countless yellow dandelions in the drizzle, and the houses across the small gully are disappearing behind the waves of mist.