I recently wrote a commission for the Australian Geographic about the Australian White Ibis. They're an interesting and lovely bird, but I have no more interest for them than any other Australian bird. What I do find especially interesting, though, is the culture that has hatched around them. There are camps of people who celebrate and almost anachronistically worship them, there are camps who hate and joke about strangling them, and then there are bigger ones still who laugh at the birds and try hard to cultivate and become involved with ibis meme culture. It's almost as strange as the ibis themselves. Anyway, here's an excerpt from the article, and a link to the full piece:
"LET’S CONSIDER THE ibis: a bird, the butt of jokes, and an Australian icon. If you are one of the 90 per cent of Australians living in an urban area, you’ll probably know of them. Formally the Australian white ibis (Threskiornis molucca), they are striking birds, large and cream coloured, muck-stained as they stride down the street, leaping onto bin rims with defiant integrity and dunking their bald, wrinkled heads into unknown waste.
Their face tapers to a bizarre curved beak often lost in a saucy kebab wrapper. They strut about on long legs and toes, scaly and leprous like their heads. Making them stranger yet, their tails are adorned with frayed black feathers, while the undersides of their wings bear a red-raw streak of arm."