Posted by: commonpoorwill | September 22, 2011

Birds & Hats & You

“Can birds join the navy?” is the question I woke up to today, scrawled across my whiteboard. Who wrote it? I didn’t even ask. It’s a bloody great question, if you ask me. Which this person clearly did.

I did a quick google search, and the answer was a definite “what? what!”.





Cheers, absolutely. What you’ve just read is the team entry thesis from my new bird companion, Seasonal Registration. Seas0 has been scratching around at Digby HQ for the last year or so, quietly learning the ropes. He’s just like Aruki, only a bit different. 100 points for that. Great job.  Intrigued by his research question, I snuck into his bedroom and just trashed everything, then did a little research into the matter myself. Turns out, birds can’t join the navy at all. Who knew? Not the internet, that’s for sure. But they can definitely wear hats, small ones, or large, although the first option is preferable to most avians. Who knew? Me. I knew that.

Happy Birdthday, Seaso. Whatever. All the best with your future research — here’s a little portrait I knocked up to keep you refreshed through all the hard times that are bound to come to you as my ghost-writer/a part of my team:

Thanks for being my friend Seaso!

Signing off (going to band practice),

The Real Digg


Posted by: commonpoorwill | June 13, 2011

The Origins of “Pool”

Whilst in recovery from my incident in the freezer (see previous post), I was advised by my surgeon, Dr Janine “The Rock” Zither, to take up a sport. I decided to take up something on the gentler side, on account of my thin, brittle ave-bones. So, I left the nest of the emergency room after 3 months and assembled my Diggers to form the first ever Ornithologist-only team for competitive pool, the
“Plumbeous Water-redstarts”. Like our avian namesake, we thrive around fast-moving streams… of balls! After falling through a worm-hole and receiving 9 solid months of training in another dimension, we returned to earth to enter the annual pool-meet. The diggers and I felt a bit ‘alienated’ as we arrived for our first game, as we had recently been rejected by the ScienceBlogs administrator, Simon “Sea-Eagle” Jones. Nevertheless, we took home the trophy, which is now the centrepiece of my king-size bed (I sleep on the sofa).

Even though I only ‘dove’ into this game for rehabilitative purposes, the excitement of winning the pool-moot provoked my natural scientific interest in the origins of this wonderful game. Not wanting to do any actual research, I spent 4 months watching the greatest moments of the sport on, I went to sleep on the fold-out, and came up with this theory. I hope you like it.

Upon the return of Columbus to Medieval Spain from the Americas, the Spanish King was presented with a variety of exotic, sensual gifts from this brave new world. Among these many trinkets, which were for the most part distributed evenly among the great kings of Europe as well as the mightiest warriors and matadors (“matadores”, as they say in Spain, in Spanish), was a cluster of eggs from perhaps the most mysterious avian beast in history: the Andean Condor. One afternoon, while toying with the eggs, the Spanish king left them lying about on his coffee table while he went to get himself a Fanta. While out of the room, a guard stumbled in and knocked one of the souvenirs – the whitest egg of them all – with the butt of his halberd. The egg shot across the table – similarly to the streams around which one might find a plumbeous water-redstart – colliding with and sending askew the entire, multi-coloured collection in an maximum-entropic nightmare. Luckily, the king had earlier that day hosted a small gathering with his school friends at which they had been served small, treat-sized enchiladas, but the ingredients had been unfit to eat and so the foods had been scorned by his guests and left at each corner of the table to rot, hanging in small enchilada pouches in an upright position. The king, re-entering the room at this very moment, dropped his Fanta and shrieked in terror, but due to the unique angle of the clumsy guard’s halberd when striking the first egg, the entire collection miraculously spun into and was supported by the enchiladas’ soft fillings in each pocket. After having the guard deported, the King was eager to replicate the fluke stunt, and that was basically how pool became a thing.

30 years later, after mastering the game with enchilada-pockets and rare eggs, the King attempted to refine the game props to allow for more frequent pool-meets in the Spanish colosseum. Eggs were replaced with stones, and enchilada pockets with cloth sacks. In keeping with his pompous, power-hungry arrogance, the Spanish King continued to use the most expensive eggs – recently plucked from beneath their poor mother, still faintly pulsing with the heartbeat of a tiny life – and tortillas whenever he played, until one fateful game on the last day of his life in 1999. The King was challenged by a poor p(h)easant on his way home from a family meal at Pizza Hut, after the King had liberally taken advantage of the free soft drinks to the point of mild hyperactivity. Evidently the King liked to force peasants on the street to carry his eggs and other treasures. In his caffeine-induced fugue, the King arrogantly thrust a bag of eggs into this peasant’s backpack without even asking first. The peasant recognized the King, and seeing the chance to give the power back to the people, challenged him to a match of pool. The King had been playing all day long, and after too many victories and maybe a slice more than he should’ve eaten, was bloated and way off of his game. In this state, he forgot that his eggs in all their brittalic splendour would be no match for the peasant’s strong, albeit primitive, stones. The peasant’s first shot destroyed two eggs and their contents, the King voluntarily took up a dishy job at Pizza Hut in his shame, and Spain was at last liberated from its harsh rule, becoming a democracy in the year 2000. Thus, the phrase “to kill two birds with one stone” was hatched, as the peasant had both won the game of pool and lifted Spain from years of cruel sport-based dictatorship in that one game.


Digby 1

Posted by: commonpoorwill | April 23, 2011

Birds of the Ice Age

Lately, while maintaining the quality of the blog, several IT Diggers (who are more just IT people really than actual Diggers, but, we let them have their fun) have pointed out the popularity of searches made by you at home that revolve (or evolve?) around the movie franchise ‘Ice Age’. I’d never even heard about these films, and naturally my inquisitive spirit was aroused. After a quick dash to the local Blockbuster – where the friendly clerk was kind enough to update and inform on the series further. Good kid – I returned to Digby Central with a worn-but-willing copy of ‘Ice Age 2: The Meltdown’ (being Easter I assume neighbourhood families had completely rented out the first episode in the series for a good time with their kids, probably. Please help me.). Something still seemed lacking in my approach to viewing the film; while I had repeatedly been assured of its quality, I wanted a truly immersive experience to introduce myself to the saga. With no chill cake in the freezer at the moment (thanks to a certain American lard-arse whose name starts with an ‘S’ and ends with ‘yther-Marie’) I eagerly decided to toss out the bags of frozen peas and secrete myself away in my own private ‘fortress of solichilled’ with my portable DVD player. This was basically going to be great.

Pulling the door to, a deep, close blackness descended that I can only assume was a perfect simulation of an ice age night (cheers). With the icy walls dimly lit by the DVD menu, I hit play with the vigour of a blacksmith forging a great sword for his lord; a sword he knows will be his finest work, and will inspire fear and awe in the hearts of the bravest man. Unfortunately, this vigour would quickly become a liability in the sealed environment I had created; my excitement caused me to hyperventilate, and I passed into unconsciousness before the opening credits had even finished, my own little ice age suddenly becoming a lonely tomb, in my kitchen.

In my mental fugue, I found myself lounging on the tip of a mighty glacier overlooking a sea of icebergs alive with nesting albatrosses, and yet I felt strangely alone. In my hands I found a pad and 2B-guage pacer – perfect for sketching. My hands took on a life of their own and darted across the paper, blurring like the rapidly beating wings of a hummingbird, and I found myself looking at a strange bird, seemingly of my own creation. Serenity gave way to blind panic and despair at the sight of the cryptid, and I considered throwing myself from the glacier to be shredded on the beaks of emperor penguins watching from below. Suddenly, as I was seconds away from ending my life, I felt a warm reassuring weight on my shoulder. Turning, I found a hand there, with the arm stretching off ahead of me into the night. I found myself slumped in the seat of my red corvette on a lonely highway along the wings of a giant eagle, the arm pulling me along at speed towards a neon Blockbuster sign in the distance. Gaining some composure, I took control of the vehicle and, looking in the rearview discovered myself to be weeping tears of blood, which was fine. I pulled up outside of the Blockbuster and was lead inside by the arm, lead to the counter where the warm, welcoming face of the clerk from before greeted me. She pulled me in and kissed me on the forehead. I took out my pad and showed her the distressing drawing, weeping harder than ever. ‘It’s fine,’ she told me in a voice like sand and glue, and leaning close she whispered the name of the creature into my blushing ear. We cried in each-others’ arms, and then I returned the DVD.

I came to in the lap of one of my IT Diggers, screaming my name. I pulled myself up and grumpily pushed him over, but quickly regained myself and helped him up with an apologetic nod and blackened hands. He explained that he had been searching for a frozen pizza and, seeing the frozen peas strewn across the linoleum, had investigated the freezer, from which I had tumbled into his arms like a newborn. I thanked him and made him an honorary Digger then and there (but regretted it later on; it was impetuous and over-emotional and I’ll probably have a word with him about it tomorrow), then went to bed feeling loose and relaxed.

Two weeks later, I realised that it had actually been a dream, and that ‘Ice Age 2: The Meltdown’ was probably still in my freezer, and pretty overdue. When I pulled the mangled portably DVD player out from under the recently-purchased frozen pizzas, the corrupted screen held a surprise for me: a pixelated image uncannily reminiscent of the bizarre bird I had sketched in my dream. Wow. I leapt into my corvette and got to Blockbuster, DVD in hand and apology in mouth, only to find the girl standing behind the counter that had held me in my comatose state in the freezer. I explained what had happened to her, and how the DVD was probably ruined, and she was pretty mad and made me pay the fine anyway, but that was “fine”. As I left the store feeling somewhat crestfallen, I glanced back. My eyes met hers over the Snickers bars, and in that moment something passed between us, and I knew that we were okay.

A Weird Bird - screenshot from my portable DVD player 2 weeks after the dream.


Your pal,

Digby xoxo

Posted by: commonpoorwill | February 3, 2010

Waste Not, Want Not


I’ve just had a snack, so to speak. Digby Central is having a bit of a clean out, and as I was going through my freezer, I found a long-abandoned chill cake (see a previous blong, Diggers!). My heart, initially, was slammed hard with a punch of memories, as I had made this cake for the late Arukitori, but soon the punch turned to a gentle, loving stroke, as perhaps a lover would slip their hand into yours, or perhaps how a mother would pat the head of her newborn son. So I decided to get down to business with this chill cake.

Removing the protective skewers I had installed, I allowed the cake to thaw for a few minutes before pulling out my steak knife and hacking myself off a generous serve. Anticipating my hunger, I gave myself a knowing look and cut another three slices. Before I could “digger” in, so to speak, my current guests, American husband and wife Clive and Scyther-Marie, stormed into my kitchen and snapped up my remaining pieces, retreating into the granny flat where I have been letting them sleep since the unfortunate incident at the dedication of my Aruki statue. I initially was fairly content at their presence and allowed them to take a happy snap of me, which I instantly regretted and realised I hates their guts. I want them to leave.

Enjoying A Slice Together





Posted by: commonpoorwill | January 27, 2010


Archithology(v.) The combined discipline of architecture and ornithology.

My tribute to Aruki.

I have decided that in order to continue moving forward on moving backwards, I need to acknowledge the death of my cassobuddy*. My first (backwards?) step was building a detailed, life size sculpture of the great bird out of chicken wire (my favourite kind) and papier mache. The opening ceremony was tainted somewhat by the invasion of an American sightseer (pictured above), who my grieving Diggers laid into with lead pipes in their grief-driven fury, but I managed to prize him free of their talons and explained the situation to him on the drive to the hospital, during which he broke down in tears of blood. This is getting to be a habit – perhaps it is a phenomenon specific to my red corvette’s passengers? I hope so.

This monument will forever stand outside Digby HQ; a memorial to a larger-than-life friend for all eternity, and beyond.


*Cassobuddy – (noun) A phenomenon pertaining to friendship between a Cassowary and an Ornithologist.

Posted by: commonpoorwill | January 27, 2010

… I don’t know what to type…

Guys, this is terrible, but I feel like you deserve to know. I respect you all so much that I can’t keep you under the ignorant wing of innocence any longer.

After the chill cake was finished, we all waited for Aruki to come home so that we could divide it up and feast upon its innards, like a Wedge Tailed Eagle with a dead kangaroo. One by one my Diggers succumbed to fatigue, took of their white Ornithologist sweaters and went to bed. But I couldn’t join them. Something told me that my life was going to fall apart like a trout in the claws of a bald eagle in flight, and that my world would never be the same as it had been. Was it a rebirth, or an early, painful, emotional massacre? I didn’t know, so I kept my position on the deck, looking out over the darkening moors, my hand still clutching the cake whisk, positioned over the cake I had made for one bird in my life: Aruki.


These are the cries my Diggers awoke to at 6am, roughly transcribed by Denise, my new secretary (she’s good, on the ball, I respect that, especially in a woman). Lying on the lawn, his face hidden by the merciful frond of a fern, only metres from where I had held my overnight vigil, was the still, cold form of a familiar cassowary. The lifeless body of my only true friend.

Now, weeks later, I can only hypothesise that he had been fighting illness for some time now, but was unable to admit it to me. Instead he chose to combat its steady onslaught alone, bravely, but with ultimately no success. Perhaps we can draw from this that his previous wanderings (see my last few posts, Diggers) had been attempts for him to slip away quietly. But time and time again I interrupted him. Me, the hopelessly loyal, pathetically clingy Ornithology “expert”, who couldn’t even see the warning signs of the slow swing of the sickle of death over my friend’s crest.

My devastation has subsided, however, like the rage of a magpie when children have stopped throwing rocks at its nest. I feel pain, but I also remember the great times we had, from the moment his tiny beak pecked through his shell and his tiny eye peered into my own, six-year-old face, to that final night in the jungle, humming his favourite Iggy tunes until the sun came up over the trees, and, together, wing in hand, we walked home.

I intend to compose a song that accurately expresses my emotions (an original), and include it on my still-upcoming “Pornithology” album.

Aruks, this post is for you. Stay proud, and I will see you one day, in valhalla.

Stay strong, Diggers; we can get through this.


Digby “Common” Poorwill

Posted by: commonpoorwill | December 7, 2009

Makin’ a Chill-cake II: The Meltdown

Having set myself back on the path to how things were in the past here at Digger HQ, I decided the time was ripe for a team building exercise that has enjoyed a bit of success in the past: makin’ a chill cake. Tension was high amongst team members, as Aruki suddenly wandered off just as we were gathering in the kitchenette and we were all pretty concerned after his midnight spell in New Guinea (see bellow, diggers). Being a strong leader, though, I reassured everybody that Aruki was a cunning beast whom I had known for my whole life, and that he would come to no harm, even though my heart pounded in my chest like tribal drums of war and I wanted to throw up pretty bad. We took to the workbench with vim, and here is what happened!

Hopefully old Aruks’ will make it back in time to partake in some! The cake needs to be chilled for the next hour or so, so that should be enough time for him to ‘cool down’.

PS Big shout out to Mr Manumad for his appreciation of my fast whisking on YouTube. Your comment response was almost as fast as my stirring!



Posted by: commonpoorwill | December 7, 2009

A Big Day for Diggers

Dear readers,

Prepare yourselves for some old-school Digby. We’re taking the site back to its roots today (no more pandas – I’m really sorry about that, guys. I was being a tool); get pumped for a stream of posts, excitement and bird-related pandamonium – pun! I’m seriously sorry, guys.

I’ve had a productive few months in the field, refreshing my love of bird-life and research. Recently I was led by my Cassowary and friend Arukitori into what turned out to be a really interesting ornithological moment. Since the two of us have had a stressful couple of years, what with all this blogging and whatnot (just kidding!), I decided to treat Aruki to a celebratory research trip, to rejoice in his good health around the globe. While we were in Papua New Guinea, we visited the site where Aruki’s family once did roam. It was an emotional time for both of us. I could see the Cassowary tears in his Cassowary eyes. That night, while I was asleep in the shower (a handy time saver for the traveling scientist), Aruki snuck out of our cottage, leaving him nowhere to be seen. After a few hours of panic, followed by an hour or so of weeping, it dawned on me that perhaps Aruki had ventured back to the significant place of his ancestry.

Pulling on a cardigan and a beanie, I slipped through the hanging beads on our door and into the balmy New Guinea twilight. Mosquitos tarnished my worry-lined face instantly, but I was almost immune to their stings and cries for attention in my state of pure terror. Stepping into the dust, I could make out, barely, the impression of a cassowary’s foot on the earth, headed in the direction I had postulated that it would. Pretty neat.

I made my way in the same direction, pushing through the rainforest with classic Poorwill determination – I didn’t even stop to check out new species of avian beast (I was pretty crazy). As I had suspected, I soon found Aruki, nestled on the patch of earth we had visited earlier that day. My attempts to drag him back to our cottage proved fruitless, and he seemed adamant that he would stay put right there, staring into the grim shadows of his native habitat.

Throwing my beanie compassionately to the ground, I squatted beside my friend, knowing that sometimes all one needs is a friend to just be there. We must have sat there, Aruki settled down in the soil with his face in my neck, and me with my arm round his back, gently singing his favourite Iggy Pop melodies, all night long. Finally, when dawn began to crack, Aruki’s spirits seemed to rise a little and he feebly stood up. Together we trekked back to our cottage to enjoy our last day in New Guinea together; two friends ’til the end.

We finished the trip up with a day out fishing off the coast of the shore. Saw a few gulls out and I caught a few more fish than Aruki. I didn’t say anything though, because that’s the kinda guy I am.

So now that we’re back, it’s time to share some of the knowledge I’ve come across (that little story is just the tip of the iceberg, friends), so get settled, maybe grab a bag of popcorn, and come along with me as we explore the mysteries of birds and, in particular, their maneuverability.

The Mona Lisa

Great Catch, Aruki!

Posted by: commonpoorwill | June 26, 2009

Birds Are Different

One of the greatest joys of my role as a researcher/lab assist. is being able to interview all of our new birds (and their parents!). Recently my return to research has yielded many exciting discoveries, the least of which is NOT the fact that most birds are different.

As we can see, the whiskers of the poorwill define its distinguished features with the air of an aristocratic English gentleman. Indeed, it reminds me of my father in many ways: Noble, Expressive, Experianced. On the other hand, this cute panda bear brings to mind the adorable innocence and loyalty of my fair feathered friend, Arukitori. It should also be noted that the grooming habits of pandas differs from Arukitori, who follows a self and partner-grooming regime. 

The contrasting grooming habits of man, bird and panda. Cheers,



Posted by: commonpoorwill | May 9, 2009

The Birds are Back in Town!


Sorry it’s been so long. Great to be back in the bird bizzo! Seriously, I messed up; it’s been too long.

Sorry guys.

I’ve had a pretty serious case of science block (i.e. the theories of relativity just going craaaazy around me) and I fell into a wormhole. By which I mean, I discovered the magic of the bottle. Ever since my sweet Aruki fell into hard times, I just haven’t been able to rouse passion within my loins and get into some birds, in a research sense.

But things are looking up. Recently, I decided to take time out and try to find myself; my inner Digger. My travels took me to the streets of India, the mountainous regions of Siberia, and 7-11, for some Doritos for the journey. Finally, I DID find myself within an ancient library in Cambodia (just like the DEAD KENNEDYS song, hah!). While poring through some old texts within it’s deepest bowels,  I found a rare book of poetry. The avid word-smith within me leaped at the opportunity to read some new material. I took of my straw bowler and settled down at a table, thermos of lemsip in hand. What I read was something I never thought I’d stumble across. Something from my past. At last, a clue to remind me that my quest as an Ornothological Maneuveralist is not a useless ploy. Stained and bloodied by time (and my tears of joy),  a page towards the back of the anthology called out to me in a rustic Father-like voice. A Roman poet from the 5th century AD’s lamentation at the astonished bewilderment he felt upon witnessing the miracle of Gallus Gallus in backward motion!

Needless to say, I was pretty stoked. My life’s dreams had led me to the dead end of despair and the dark corner of suicide, and suddenly the blinds had been pulled back from the stained glass window of my life, letting glorius light flood my beak in a symphony of colours and new ideas. Taking a photocopy, I seguway’d my way back to Digby HQ, singing The Shrike Song in a voice like the northern wind; thunderous and unyielding. This was it. I was back on track. Things were swinging my way, finally. Hope lives on!

As if to encourage my enthusiasm, the bird that had taken up residence in my garage had returned for the winter months! She gave a cheerful coo as I drove in, as if to say “Aw, welcome home you”

Prepare yourselves.

Now is the time.

Rise to your feet and clap to the beat.

The beating of wings and the clackity-clack of tridactyl toes on the hard earth.


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