Friday Fable: Lubans’ “Why the Brolga Flies So High*”

Posted by jlubans on November 27, 2015

Caption: A brolga in flight.

Casting about for a Friday Fable, Australia's brolga came to mind, so here goes.
Once upon a time, a brolga was a delegate to a conference of birds. The birds had assembled (as Aristophanes wrote) to debate how best to avoid mankind. Once, man and beast lived in harmony; nowadays, Man only wanted to capture or kill and eat the birds. Zeus overheard the birds and – being in an expansive mood after a feast of ambrosia and other viands - asked each bird what he, Zeus, could do to help them survive against man. Some asked to be made invisible by blending in with the environment, others asked for talons and sharp beaks, and others for enhanced senses of smell and sight to keep man at bay. The brolga, a solitary creature by nature, asked for extra wide wings to fly high, out of the range of boomerangs and spears. Zeus granted this, and that is how, along with enjoying the coolness of the air at these high altitudes, the brolga keeps away from his enemies.

Of course, while these improvements helped the birds elude Man none were guaranteed. The cunning opponent always finds a way. The brolga has to come to earth to rest and to feed; that’s when Man seeks him out.

*The Brolga is a large grey crane, with a loud trumpeting “garooo”. He is named after a great Aboriginal dancer who was abducted by an evil sprit, to return in the form of a beautiful bird. This brolga myth is featured at corroborees (like Native American pow-wows), in dance and song, with brolga dancers taking long hopping steps and seemingly to float on the air.

© Copyright John Lubans 2015

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