Daubs of ashen poo on the couch, over the fireplace, the coffee table.
Two birds flew into the house and were inadvertently locked in the lounge room. One of the kids probably wandered by and blocked their exit, a miracle considering they usually need to be screamed at to seal any airlocks in our draughty home.
"Were you born in a tent?" my father would ask.
"Well, close the flap."
Didn't make sense then, doesn't make sense now.
Judging by the volume of guano, the birds - a pair of grey shrikethrushes - might have been pooping on our carpet for a couple hours. My wife discovered them and opened a window. The species seems blessed with that extra intelligence lacking in some of its counterparts and appeared to understand she was trying to help. Out they flew.
They can't have been too traumatised because they were back inside a couple of days later.
If it's taboo to harbour a favourite child, the same must be true of a favourite bird. We are so blessed with avian abundance and variety and character in this country, to single a species out is to miss the point.
Back in 2013, BirdLife Australia generated a great deal of interest by conducting a national poll to identify the country's most-loved species. The superb fairywren came out on top and ever since, various organisations have conducted surveys and backyard counts and all manner of bird-related citizen science projects to which we've flocked with gusto.
Again, we're so privileged to be a nation of enthusiastic twitchers, to be in a place where reminders of our sheer dumb luck come swooping and flitting; beating and hovering around us every day.
When he was in Queensland to make The Proposition, British actor Ray Winstone told an interviewer in his trademark cockney how he was stunned by the antipodean bird life.
"Even the pigeons are parrots," he said.
He's right, we're spoiled for choice in the colonies and while the charming blue wren was indeed a great choice as our most cherished bird, I'm partial to a good dose of thrush, especially this time of year.
As can be deduced from its scientific name, Colluricincla harmonica, the grey shrikethrush has a lovely call and even has different songs for different seasons.
In spring and summer, it produces a range of complex melodies but in the colder months, it shuts down the studio and insinuates crisp, single-note complaints into the air, as if, like the rest of us, it's sick and tired of winter and likes to emphasise the point by moping around stating the obvious.
When I dig a hole, it's not uncommon for a thrush to materialise on the wheelbarrow and wait, somewhat impatiently, for the next shovel-load of unseen grubs and worms.
In the sunny mornings and crepuscular streaks of September, the thrush will join us on the verandah, bobbing about the planters for spiders and slaters; head tilted, a beady, not-quite-wary eye always in our direction.
Such familiarity doesn't breed contempt, quite the opposite, and I'm sure because the understated thrush - males and females are similarly drab - can rely on its charisma, it doesn't need bright colours to inflate its ego or compensate for certain personality traits.
The most literally pavonine of all birds, the peacock, is a complete jerk.
The closest native we have to the preening peacock is the louche lyrebird, which, like the thrush, has no need to showboat by unfurling a full spectrum of gaudiness and insecurity. He does just fine with his palette of classic browns, something you can pull off when capable of imitating a chainsaw.
The clincher to convince me the thrush is the best bird in the garden is its shape. Not too big, not too small; streamlined and smooth. Its head is rounded, its chest ample, some astute whiskers on the chin.
These aerodynamics promote a distinctive method of insouciant flight. The thrush beats its wings a couple of times, seems to forget it's flying at all and begins to drop to the ground. Before falling too far, it remembers where it is, flaps and gains altitude. Watching an amplitudinal thrush navigate the yard is akin to charting sine on a graph; peaks and troughs, peaks and troughs.
The idea that a thrush, wren or magpie should ever change shape is ghastly but it may be happening already.
According to a new study, creatures are "shapeshifting", possibly in response to climate change, and birds could be the canaries in the coalmine when it comes to this evolutionary trend.
While we humans can still plunder the planet's resources to ward off any real biological response to global warming (psychologically, not so much), birds and animals are left to manage however they can. For birds, this could mean growing bigger beaks to expand the unfeathered surface areas on their once-efficient bodies.
The study, published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution, points to Australian parrots which have been growing larger beaks for the past 150 years as the summers get hotter.
One of the authors of the study, Sara Ryding, of Deakin University, says far from being a good thing, shapeshifting is an alarming and extreme way to cope with environmental change.
The glacial pace of Darwin's evolutionary theory means we'll never be confronted by the elegant bee-stinger beak of a grey shrikethrush morphing into the overblown bill of a toucan but the fact we're forcing our fellow Earthlings into such a last-ditch evolutionary corner is disturbing enough.
Just when the furred and feathered and scaled have reached anatomical perfection, along we come to send them back to the drawing board.
In lockdown, birds have been a balm and we've been enjoying their vernal resurrection. The japonica on the fence is a particular hot spot. Like Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree, or New York's Chelsea Hotel, its many different levels and nooks and compartments allow for adventure, kinky sex (maybe not the magic tree, but there was a character called 'Dame Slap'), joy and disaster.
As has been the case over many recent springs, however, I watch the birds hoping they'll make it through the capricious summer, looming as it does these days with unknown intent.
The ice-cool thrush, I suspect, will handle our manmade heat better than most because it's so clever and adaptable and may even continue serenading us through catastrophe with its beautiful voice.
Not that we deserve it.
- B.R. Doherty is a regular columnist.