Ern Hoskin is a name that many will remember. He was the ‘human lyrebird’ and a long-standing and much-loved feature of Centennial Parklands for almost 50 years.

No discussion about birds in Centennial Parklands is had without one man’s name coming up – Ern Hoskin.


Who was Ern?

Ernest Hoskin (1914-2009) was born in Crows Nest, Sydney (a very apt location considering his life ahead, noted his son John). He had two passions in life – ornithology (the study of birds) and Centennial Parklands.

Ern volunteered his time for almost 50 years conducting birdwatching tours of the Parklands, observing and recording bird species and helping park visitors to better understand the birdlife around them.

He was affectionately called the ‘human lyrebird’ for his ability to virtually ‘whistle’ the birds out of the trees, and it is believed he could mimic 50 different bird species.


    Ern Hoskin with his interpretive bird painting in Centennial Park, 2002

Ern Hoskin with his interpretive bird painting in Centennial Park, 2002


Not only was Ern a fount of knowledge about the (roughly) 142 bird species in the Parklands, he donated all his findings and recordings on species, populations, habitats and behaviour collected over so many years to Centennial Parklands.


This information is exceptionally valuable for its archival nature as the Parklands’ biodiversity changes over time.


Also an artist!

Added to this was Ern’s undoubted talents as a bird illustrator. His wonderful 1973 oil painting sign of the Water Birds of Centennial Park (pictured above) became a popular feature for many visitors.

“My father was a bit of an artist and luckily the talent seemed to run in the family. By the time I was a teenager, I was painting almost every bird I saw. It wasn’t a case of just painting my favourites. I loved them all!” – Ern Hoskin, 2002

We are often asked about the whereabouts of this painting. At present, it is in protective storage, preparing for eventual restoration after many years in the elements.


Much deserved recognition

In 1999 Ern Hoskin was awarded an Order of Australia for his outstanding contribution to ornithology and conservation.

Ern passed away in 2009 and is still greatly by his friends and fellow ornithologists and twitchers.


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