Birds are a recurring theme on AnOther. We’ve celebrated their plumage and their many appearances in art. People have talked about their passionate ornithological tendencies, others have expressed their ornithophobia. There have been Victorian taxidermy birds, Frida’s collection of pet birds, delicately illustrated birds’ eggs and the work of Cass Bird. We have swooned at the way designers such as Alexander McQueen took the existing majesty of feathers and turned them into something even more extraordinary. But this week, we’re going back to basics, as AnOther’s Lovers have fallen head over beak for this portrait of a Salmon-crested cockatoo, Loved by fashion writer Dal Chodha.
Among the largest of the white cockatoos, the salmon-crested version hails from Indonesia. When relaxed, it is an unspectacular, flat-feathered bird, but when put under pressure, it reveals a crest of feathers in vibrant red-orange, which rise up to deter potential attackers. It is not alone in the animal kingdom for having an unconvential defence mechanism – a dog will raise its hackles as a warning, a cobra’s head stretches out to form a fearsome hood when disturbed, and if fighting over territory, male grey catbirds will puff themselves up as far as they can, with the bird that appears the largest winning the ground. But avian tricks aren’t simply for aggression – other birds employ elaborate courting rituals to attract their mates. For peacocks, it’s their elaborate fan of tail feathers, the entirely adorable club-winged manakin does a death defying moonwalk while the bowerbird resorts to collecting shiny trinkets such as tinfoil and shells to lure their beloved into their nest.
Here at AnOther, we're fully smitten with this pink-tinted bird, especially at the news that he is likely to be an excellent mimic. So as we plot what phrases we'd teach him to say, Chodha christens him Paul and dreams of a trip to Iceland, as the cockatoo flies.
Why did you love this bird?
I came across this picture online the same week that the couture shows were on in Paris; there was something about his elegant plumage that made me think of the beautiful clothes we had been looking at and of old Galliano.
Where would you keep him if you owned him, and what would be his name?
I would keep him in a bronze cage, suspended from the ceiling above my desk where I work and write. I think I would have to call him Paul or Rob; anything too grand would seem a little ostentatious. I am a big fan of animals having regular, human names. For a girl it would be Pamela or Alice.
What is your favourite feathered thing?
They are not my favourite thing as such, but I don’t understand why pigeons get such a hard time. I have a lot of time for baby owls too.
Who is the best bird on screen?
It has to be the gull, seen pecking a child in a blue dress at the birthday party in The Birds. Every time I see that scene, it makes me laugh. It’s him or Lesley Joseph.
If you were a bird, where would you fly to?
Without doubt I would go to Iceland. I would go for a steam in the Blue Lagoon, hang out on top of the Hallgrímskirkja church and fly through all of the waterfalls I had the energy for.
Do you find birds frightening like Hitchcock or loveable like Tweety Bird?
HITCHCOCK!! We have cats and fat babies for the cute stuff.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
I am a lunchtime pigeon! I don’t eat off the floor or anything and I am very clean but I thrive during the daytime, getting in everybody’s way, wearing a lot of grey.
What are you looking forward to about summer?
I am working on a publishing project that is going to keep me indoors for a lot of August. Summer is always difficult when you work from home, as it demands a great deal of self-control (wine with lunch) and focus (luckily you cannot see laptop screen when in direct sunlight). I do not have any holidays planned because it’s like Cuba outside!
What was the last thing you bought?
I finally succumbed to my questionable taste level last month and bought a black Bao Bao Issey Miyake “purse,” “man-bag” or “wallet” depending on whom I meet. I am probably only a few years away from adopting a very strict art-teacher-in-Hampstead uniform.
Text by Tish Wrigley