What I Have Learnt From Birds

The Wonders of Birding

Time was when this article would have been on birds of the unfeathered kind. But time does move on and so must we. So this one really is about birds and what they have taught me.

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http://www.freenaturephotos.com/photos/animal-photos/pages/peacock-4.html
http://www.freenaturephotos.com/photos/animal-photos/pages/peacock-4.html
Map courtesy http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/cranes/anthvirg.htm
Map courtesy http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/cranes/anthvirg.htm

Being Beautiful Isn't Easy

Much as being plain-looking carries a burden (of sorts), so does being beautiful. It may not be so obvious but it takes humility, awareness and effort for a beautiful woman to be level-headed and down-to-earth. The peacock, striking as it is, carries its huge bouquet of pretty feathers which allow it to fly no higher than a tree for no more than maybe fifty metres.

Compare this with the demoiselle crane and the bar-headed geese which fly upwards of 20,000 feet to cross the Great Himalayas to reach their wintering grounds in India. They are much better fliers without the weight of lovely feathers.

Nature's Gifts Are Evenly Distributed

Although at times it may not seem like it, nature’s gifts are fairly evenly distributed. You have to see the resplendent colours on the white-breasted kingfisher and then hear its screechy call to realize the truth of this statement. Conversely, listen to the multitude of notes the oriental magpie robin sings. And the plain-looking dresses it wears - simple black and white, sometimes with a touch of grey.

Oriental magpie robin    Image Courtesy Wikipedia
Oriental magpie robin Image Courtesy Wikipedia
White breasted kingfisher Image courtesy Wikipedia
White breasted kingfisher Image courtesy Wikipedia

With Courage You Can Take on Challenges Bigger Than You Thought Possible

Often when I look up at the sky, I see birds attacking other birds much larger than themselves. A crow will take on a scavenger kite. A lapwing will dive above a dog if it feels its nest is threatened. Many birds build their nests near the Black Drongo’s, knowing its presence will be a protective shield. The Drongo is known to take on larger adversaries fearlessly.

It Pays to Be Deceptive Sometimes

The red-wattled lapwing is a master of deception. “Did you do it? Did you do it?” it asks, especially if a predator is near its nest.

The lapwing’s survival technique involves misleading a predator into believing its nest is far away from where it actually is.

Sarus crane Image courtesy Wikipedia
Sarus crane Image courtesy Wikipedia

Avoid Value Judgements – Some Believe in Fidelity, Some Don’t

The fidelity of the Sarus crane is legendary. In fact, the Mughal Emperor Jahangir writes of the Sarus' lifelong bond in his opus Jahangirnama. On the other hand, the promiscuity of the sage grouse, some sandpipers and hummingbirds is well known. The Baya Weaver and its intricate nest tell a fascinating story. The male builds a nest after which a number of females inspect it. One of them finally approves and occupies the nest, and copulation occurs. Subsequently the male builds another nest and repeats the exercise with another lot of females. That is rather exhausting if you ask me. The Baya would have been luckier if he could have managed with the one nest. Construction and sex, construction and sex , construction and sex - ah, life can be quite demanding for some!

Birds like the Ruff have one-night stands. Others mate for a season, still others for no valid reason. Does that sound like people we know? Many of us pass judgement when a person's value system differs from ours. It takes all sorts to make the world is what birds tell me. Live and let live.

http://www.freefoto.com/preview/?ffid=01-13-54
http://www.freefoto.com/preview/?ffid=01-13-54
Image Courtesy http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ns/pussy.html
Image Courtesy http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ns/pussy.html

Respect Cross-cultural Differences

The owl is considered a wise bird in western folklore. In fact, the prestigious Defence Services Staff College at Wellington in South India has an owl as its emblem. Chosen by the British, as it was. But in India, the colloquial for owl is ullu. If you were to say “Ullu bana diya” it would mean you have made a fool of someone.

In fact, if you read the first verse of Edward Lear’s poem “The Owl and the Pussy Cat”, you will realize how wise the owl is – singing praises to his love and also ensuring the availability of the good things in life.

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

So two lessons from the owl – one is that various cultures see the same thing in different ways. We should respect other cultures as we do our own. The second, courtesy Edward Lear, shows the way to marital bliss.

Never Give Up

Perhaps you have observed how birds build their nests so painstakingly, carrying twigs, straws and other building materials in their beaks. Ever so often, because of man or nature, their work comes undone and they have to start all over again. You never hear them complain or bemoan their fate. They return to the task with renewed vigour. This is perhaps the greatest lesson I have learnt from watching birds.

With grateful thanks to Sally's Trove for her editorial assistance.

 

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Comments 37 comments

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

No one can have everything, right? That would be a real unfair world. :)


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 7 years ago Author

So right you are FP. Thanks for reading hope you enjoyed it


Laila Rajaratnam profile image

Laila Rajaratnam 7 years ago from India

Anything about birds and I just have to read!I had completely forgotten the poem'Owl and the pussy cat'.Brought back memories of my class room with the poetry book open on my desk and the picture of the owl and pussy cat in that book.I remember it so vivdly.Thanks for bringing back memories.I'm off to hunt for the full poem in the internet.Thanks.


Laila Rajaratnam profile image

Laila Rajaratnam 7 years ago from India

Sabu..found it and saved the poem too in my computer!Thanks!


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 7 years ago Author

Glad to know you are a bird lover too Laila. Do you manage to do some bird watching? What did you think of the hub?


Laila Rajaratnam profile image

Laila Rajaratnam 7 years ago from India

Yes,Sabu..I love birds.Everymorning I have my tea in my verandah and watch the birds.But now with more buildings coming up in our area..there are fewer birds now.Anyway,I do have a birdbath and a birdfeeder too in my garden!:)I love to watch birds have bath..they look so very cute!Great hub!:)


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

I think that the best lesson is the never give in one!


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 7 years ago Author

Thank you Laila and Cindyvine. May you continue to learn from and enjoy the company of birds


apeksha profile image

apeksha 7 years ago from India.

woman to be level-headed and down-to-earth.

I liked your passion of writting.

Being a bird watcher is the most interesting and needs concentration as well a notification towards their behaviour..

U r also bird watcher sounds gr8...

thanks....there r some people who understands their feelings...


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 7 years ago Author

Thank you Apeksha.

Yes I do enjoy watching birds and trying to learn from them. Are you a birder too?


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Canadian geese mate for life.

One of the saddest sights I ever saw was along a high-speed roadway here a couple of years ago. A goose had been hit by a car and killed. Its mate stayed with the dead body for days. I know this because I commuted on this roadway every day and saw the grieving goose, who would not leave its dead mate.

That was all about fidelity and also never giving in.

Awesome Hub.


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 7 years ago Author

Thanks for your comments Sally - I had no idea about Canadian Geese. And since this is your personal experience, it has absolute authenticity. Thanks for adding to my knowledge


Catlyn profile image

Catlyn 7 years ago from Somewhere in the OC

I always stop and laugh when I see a mockingbird take on a crow! That has to be one of the most hilarious sights in the bird kingdom. I love waking up to the morning songs of the birds outside my window too. This is a great Hub; much insight and thought put into it. Thanks for writing it!


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 7 years ago Author

Unfortunately we do not have mockingbirds in India - plenty of crows though.

I am lucky too to be able to wake up to the sound of bird calls - the Asian Cuckoo, the Coucal, the Fantail Fylcatcher and the Oriental Magpie Robin are the earliet callers.

Thanks for reading. My reward lies in your liking it.


katyzzz profile image

katyzzz 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Birds are wonderful creatures and you're sounding a bit like a wise owl yourself here sabu, well done, and I loved the bird pictures, I am fascinated by the language of birds, they display such a variety in their bird talk. I just wish I could understand what they say.


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 7 years ago Author

Thanks Katy. I don't know whether I qualify to be called a wise owl (thank God you didn't say Ullu - lol, but thanks anyway.

I agree that bird language is very interesting. I am sure some research has been done in this area. I shall try and find some references and pass them on. Thanks for reading.


billy sidhu profile image

billy sidhu 7 years ago

here we get to see the golden oriole often, tow beautiful owls - barn owls u said- and pairs of large white regal eagles gliding above the ocean waters and past our bedroom !


sbeakr 7 years ago

What a lovely hub...and what sagacious little lessons to be learned! I adore the inherent simplicity and valid points of your article.


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 7 years ago Author

Thank you ever so much for your very valid comments sbeakr. I am sure there are zillions of lessons to be learnt if we take the trouble os observing nature. Are you a bird lover too?


lovelypaper profile image

lovelypaper 6 years ago from Virginia

Very nice. Beautiful birds.


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 6 years ago Author

Thank you lovelypaper for your comments.


poetlorraine 6 years ago

i have become interested in birds, their beautiful colours, and instincts. This was a lovely hub and i thank you for it.


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 6 years ago Author

Thank you for your kind words poetlorraine and welcome to the bird lovers club.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

We Sarus Crane types look on the Sage Grouse and the Baya Weaver’s of this world with a raised eyebrow and a justifiable feeling of superiority which is legendary. We frown on female Baya Weavers who wish to inspect our worldly goods before opening their wings to us. Our pride will not allow us to be enticed by their attractions, no matter how alluring, though we might make an exception in some particularly promising instances :-)


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 6 years ago Author

Thank you for the nice comment De Greek lol. Good of you to drop by.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

A most well composed and beautiful hub, sir. I presume it was in all seriousness? I detected a slight tone of amusement in places.

In any case, yes, much is to be learned from birds, indeed, and much pleasure in observing them.

On my ranch there are many species, some which herald a change in weather, some which perform a nightly ritual of swooping down almost into the water in the tank to catch and fly off with an insect hovering on the surface. We’ve watched Phoebes building their nests in a knot hole and then both parents flying around finding food each evening to take to their hungry young. There are many migrant birds going back and forth between Canada and Mexico, whose border the ranch is near.

And a most amazing native bird to both Mexico and my ranch area is the Painted Bunting, – a plain looking little fellow except for the flamboyant coloring of the brightest rainbow in its feathers. The first time I saw an artist’s rendition of one in a birder’s catalog, I felt sure the artist must have drunk too much; that is, until we saw one of the shy little fellows near the cabin.

But one memorable experience was when we saw a Shrike attack a Cardinal. Before long there were beautiful red feathers strewn all over the ground beneath the limb where the cardinal had perched. We were distraught about it, especially my husband who hated bullying and violence, and especially against a creature as gorgeous, harmless and peaceable as a Cardinal. A few days later when Ruben, our wild game consultant, came by and we related the story to him, what he said was, “Don’t play God. It is all part of the natural order of things.” It didn’t help our feelings much, but it did make sense & explained its reality somewhat.


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 6 years ago Author

Thank you ever so much for your comments Nellieanna and for sharing your own experiences. I look forward to reading your Hubs on birds too and hope you will put pen to paper if you haven't already done so. Cheers.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

OH -I've written hubs but have not written any on birds. I leave that to you who are more expert on them. I just ramble on about philosophical stuff, life and as the spirit moves me. But I'd be honored if you choose to visit my site.


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 6 years ago Author

Well you certainly know more about birds than I do-and I profess to be more of a bird lover than an expert.

It will be my honour and pleasure to read your Hubs.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

What a lovely hub, you even quote my favourite poem, "The Owl and the Pussy Cat" love it!!


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 6 years ago Author

Many thanks for visiting Gypsy Willow. What a coincidence that I should quote from your favourite poem.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England

Hi sabu, as a fellow naturalist I enjoyed this hub. It is always good to be taught of wild life from another country. The photographs enhance this well written and informative hub . Thank you.


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 6 years ago Author

Thank you very much D.A.L. Glad you enjoyed this Hub. Since you are a naturalist, you may like to read another Hub I wrote http://hubpages.com/hub/arehumanssexieroranimals.

This is a tongue-in-cheek look at one fascinating aspect of the animal world.


Varenya profile image

Varenya 6 years ago

Thanks, this hub is truly wonderful, and moreover I love to be instructed by the nature, she has so many things to teach, in fact! Besides, I love greatly the birds, of whatever species, and I try always to visit the best sites for the bird-watching- this is one of my passions :)


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 6 years ago Author

Thank you for your kind comments Varenya. It is always nice to meet a fellow bird-lover. Your enthusiasm shows through clearly.


John and a camera profile image

John and a camera 6 years ago from Co. Leitrim Southern Ireland

Wonderful, wonderful hub. Very good reading indeed. Keep up the good work. I just love birds and bird photography myself.


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 6 years ago Author

It is always nice to meet a fellow bird lover. Thank you for your encouraging comments John and I thank you for visiting.

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