Which Pentecostal Bird for Oz?

It’s Pentecost on Sunday, and I’m distracting myself from the uncomfortable feeling that I don’t know what to preach about, given the rices of what’s available. I’m doing that by wondering which Aussie bird would make a good symbol for the Holy Spirit. I have an idea—the cockatoo—but it’s for the most superficial of reasons.

When Jesus was baptised, the Holy Spirit came upon him “like a dove” (Matthew, Mark) or “in bodily form like a dove” (Luke). The dove is the standard biblical bird-image of the Spirit, and of course for us has connotations of peace.

Dove at Wailing Wall, Jerusalem

Dove at Wailing Wall, Jerusalem

The ancient Celtic Christians fastened on a wilder image for the Holy Spirit in the goose. The wild goose is uncontrollable and unpredictable. A terrifically evocative image for God’s untamed Spirit, who leads us to places we never thought we’d go!

Greylag geese

Greylag Geese


What about Australia? An obvious candidate would be the kookaburra, wild, with that fabulous laugh that both annoys and lifts the spirits. Perhaps it should be the kookaburra. But I favour the cockatoo because of the scene in closing minutes of the 2001 satire The Man who sued God where you see the ‘dove’ flying high above, but then realise as the bird reveals its comb that this Holy Spirit image is no dove, but a sulphur-crested cockatoo! There’s something of the larrikin in this that suits the Aussie temperament, I think! (I told you my reasons were superficial…)

Sulphur crested cockatoos

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos


What do you think the Aussie image could be, if it were other than the dove?


1 Comment

Filed under church year, reflection

One response to “Which Pentecostal Bird for Oz?

  1. How about the Flaming Galah? It’s found almost everywhere in Australia. Only problem is that the Holy Spirit isn’t lacking in intelligence.

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