The absurdity over Adani finch demands

In the manner of Charles Darwin, I have spent most of my life closely studying animals.

Exactly like the celebrated naturalist, I exhaustively examine all types of creatures. Be they of land, sea or sky, I deeply consider every single one.

And then eat them.

Unlike Darwin, you see, the majority of my biological investigations take place in restaurants and kitchens. I prefer my beasts grilled.

To Darwin, the giant Galapagos tortoise was an intriguing shell-backed species of the genus chelonoidis. To me, it's meat in a can.

The rare and endangered black-throated finch.
The rare and endangered black-throated finch.

Even so, when I have bothered to observe heartbeat-equipped foodstuffs in their pre-cooked state, ­various interesting facts have become clear.

For example, most birds can fly.

This is not only their principle means of travel, but also their way of getting out of trouble. Should a predator creep up upon them, or a hungry journalist, birds take wing. Even small, possibly very tasty, birds have this annoying ability.

Almost all of them, as it happens. All except the black-throated finch. When danger threatens, these do-nothing bludger birds apparently just sit there and await their demise.

This is the only conclusion able to be drawn from the latest Queensland government demands made to operators of the proposed Adani coal mine.

As Brisbane's Courier-Mail reported last week, the black-throated finch is so heedless of its own need for self-preservation that Adani management must take extraordinary measures to ensure the bird's survival.

"The Carmichael coal project could be delayed by up to five years," the Courier-Mail wrote, "after the state Labor government demanded Adani count the precise number of black-throated finches living on the property."


The Adani coal mine will put the endangered finch on a fast track to extinction, experts have warned the federal government. Picture: AAP/Eric Vanderduys
The Adani coal mine will put the endangered finch on a fast track to extinction, experts have warned the federal government. Picture: AAP/Eric Vanderduys

At least Indian miners won't be counting Indian mynas. Those things multiply so quickly that any count would be out by a factor of 20 even before it's finished.

In most cases where construction of anything occurs in an area occupied by a few stupid birds, they simply fly away to another location. They've been doing this since construction was invented.

Not the black-throated finch, however. As the first crews arrive at the Adani site, the finches will evidently remain. Should one of them be scooped up by earthmoving equipment, it will stay perched on the soil, immobilised by confusion.

"What the hell are these?" staffers at coal-fired facilities in Mumbai and Kolkata might wonder as shipments of Adani-extracted fossil fuel arrive.

"Hmmm," colleagues may reply. "Looks like beaks."

Dealing with these finches is such specialised work that Queensland's government is even dictating the qualifications of anyone engaged in Adani bird assessment.

"The Department of Environment and Science is now trying to specify the academic qualifications required, such as insisting on postgraduate qualifications for certain activities," an Adani spokeswoman revealed last week.

The black-throated finch.
The black-throated finch.

That's good news for anyone with a doctorate in finch statistics. Not such good news, though, for potential mine employees up Townsville way.

Perhaps a few small tests should be conducted before Adani launches a full-scale bird count.

It could just be that the black-throated finch is keener on flight than the government suspects.

All we need to test this theory is one government employee and one shovel.

Send the employee into the proposed mining area with instructions to advance towards a cluster of black-throated finches.

If the birds elude the employee, then the mine can proceed.

If the employee returns with a shovel covered in blood and feathers, however, then Adani is abandoned.