Bird’s eye view

[Written 15th October, 2015]

Apologies for my two week break. I’m calling it my school holidays! It’s just been busy busy lately and I’m struggling a little (read: more than a little!) to keep afloat. I tried to write for both Monday deadlines but I ended up with rambling, vague, long and somewhat pointless essays that I’d lost touch with and couldn’t relate to anymore. But now I’m back 🙂

Today a fellow birder from one of the several bird photography groups that I’m a member of on Facebook posted something that I could connect with. It’s a quote from a very famous author.

“I never saw a wild thing feel sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself” – D H Lawrence

I wanted to call this post perspective, again, but I’ve done that at least twice, so time for a new title. I looked up synonyms and one that was listed under prospect was bird’s eye view. It’s a unique outlook that humans mostly never get to enter into. We often imagine what a bird’s view is, and project onto birds our human emotions and thoughts.

There’s a whole animal welfare section of society that campaigns for different animals in different situations. As far as I can see, which might not be well or far, we can assess an animals pain based on what would cause us pain, or by the animals behaviour and reaction to the pain. Then we can treat the pain.

The rest of the industry I don’t know about, and I’m not sure if we always do it right. These are just my questioning thoughts; I’m not basing this on any evidence or proof.

We campaign for cage chickens and want them free to roam the open green grass paddocks. But as long as the animals aren’t being injured by too close proximity to each other or the cages, does the chicken feel sorry for itself? Or was it bred for this and in this environment, and doesn’t know the difference and is actually quite content? Are we thinking of ourselves and how we like open, green spaces, and don’t like being too close to each other in physical distance and housing? Are we projecting onto a creature that doesn’t even have the kind of human thinking that gets us worried about other life forms? I don’t know. I just wonder. How about overseas where high density living and family groups are crowded into one house? Do they think about free range chickens? Doubtful, because it’s exactly how they are living. Hmmm. Feel free to comment.

The picture posted on the bird photography group that prompted this quote was of a Silver Gull, commonly called a seagull. If you glanced at the photo, if you looked at it, you wouldn’t think anything of it. It’s a photo of a seagull standing on a stone border. Nothing particularly notable.

Until you read the comment that the person posting the photo had written:

“Silver gull with no feet. While it is sad, the bird seemed to be doing okay. And it shows just how adaptable the species can be” – Jade Craven, Bird Photography Australia.

That makes you look again. And this time you notice that instead of standing on two  three-toed, webbed feet, the bird is standing on stumps. Remarkable!

But looking at it you would have to agree with the description. This is a healthy Silver Gull.

Clean, healthy, perfect-looking plumage; healthy coloured legs, eye and beak; looking well fed.

Our instincts would be to protect this somewhat disabled bird, but actually, it’s doing okay.

We’d want to take it in, feed it, keep it safely enclosed from predators, care for it.

In doing so, we’d give it our idea of appropriate food at our idea of frequency, we’d make it dependent on us for food and water so that it would be lost or dead without us, we’d keep it in an environment where it couldn’t fly like normal and it might lose the ability to do so making it prone to attack. Being in a safe environment could make it unaware to danger and threat, so that it becomes an easy target.

I’m not saying this in any criticism of animal rescue professionals who are trained in animal welfare. They know what they are doing, and they take animals only if they cannot be left in the wild by any means possible, and give them the best care that is known by humans to give.

But I’m trying to look from a bird’s eye view and see how they see. Of course it’s impossible; they don’t talk so they can’t tell us. But I’ve seen a LOT of humans lately, in the groups that I follow, rush to take birds, especially babies into their care when in some circumstances, nature was taking its course as the fledglings left the nest and made their way to the ground. Taking them in is the worst thing for them, now that they are separated from their family. In my opinion.

I was always taught to leave well alone. Just because you’ve stumbled across a situation at a certain time and it looks a certain way, don’t jump the gun. Nature is incredibly smart! Birds and all the other creatures are incredibly well regulated and well designed and they know what they’re doing and are more resourceful than we are, I reckon. Of course this is all opinion but I’ve been interested to think about this.

People have tried to enter into a bird’s perspective. I’ve seen Go Pros strapped to the back to eagles before they are released to fly and soar so that we the humans can look down on the world like they do. Something that astounded me was that I couldn’t see the ground! Not in any detail at all anyway, of course I could see it but I couldn’t make out anything. And eagles can not only see the ground in detail but they see tiny animals in amazing detail and they dive on a pinpoint spot to capture and get away with their prey. They’re way ahead of us!

So I was just thinking about birds not feeling sorry for themselves, but just getting on with life in whatever way they can. Most times they don’t need us, and we can certainly make things worse for them, and maybe sometimes a little better.

But I can keeping thinking this: birds don’t seem to feel sorry for themselves. They just go, just do, just be without considering whether they are hard done by, or its unfair, or someone else should do something for me. So can I, if I am prepared to make the effort to change my thinking, and I hope I am!

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