Thursday, 26 October 2017

Lost - with a song in my heart?

I am a big fan of wild birds. I have an old apple tree in the middle of my lawn and every day I top up the feeder that hangs from a lower branch. I often watch through the window when I write. I keep an eye open through the open kitchen door when washing up. I am often rewarded by visits from blue tits, great tits, chaffinches and goldfinches. I am thrilled when the long tail tits visit and love to see tree sparrows, a species in steady decline now. 

Robins are regular visitors. One sits on the highest branch of my 100ft sycamore, trilling his wonderful songs. Last year I found some cushion stuffing blowing round the lawn and hooked it on the branches of the apple tree. When I trimmed the privet hedge in late summer, I found a small, perfect cup, the size of half a tennis ball: a nest made from the same synthetic stuffing. In winter, I have been fortunate to see jays, a tawny owl,  three waxwings (that was incredible) and a pair of grey wagtails. One Christmas Day, we sat down to lunch and watched a lesser spotted woodpecker picking off the last hawthorn berries. There was snow on the ground that year, quite a rare event on the Fylde Coast.

Birdsong is always in the air. Sometimes I listen to a CD of birdsong, in an attempt to recognise my little visitors when the light is too difficult to see their colours or they are obscured by leaves. It has been several years since I saw or heard a song thrush at home. I remember my Grandmother was always delighted to see one. I am not sure how many are left now but I will keep looking out. I take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch every January. The song thrush didn't make the Top 20 in Lancashire this year. Click on the link if you want to see the results or take part in the survey next January.   https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/results/

In September, during a short break in Kos, I was upset to see wild birds in cages in restaurants and outside in gardens. We sat in a beach front cafĂ© in Agios Stefanos, listening to a caged goldfinch sing magnificently as it charged frantically back and forth long the perch in the caged. Kos is a beautiful island and to see a wild creature exploited as entertainment always distresses me. A wild bird is meant to be free, "why have the wings, unless you're meant to fly and tell me please, why have a mind unless to question why?" Bergman, Bergman, Legrand.


The subject of birds coming close to extinction has been a feature of the news this week. Many species of wild song birds native to Java in Indonesia are nearing extinction. They are captured, caged and enslaved because of their wonderful vocal repertoire. There are competitions held all over Indonesia in which caged birds sing for massive cash prizes: A top crooner can win equivalent to £60,000. In a poor country, this is huge incentive. It is driving Java's songbirds to extinction.


It is estimated that there are only 80 pairs of this exquisite green bird with bright red beak and black masked eyes left in the wild in Java. Experts from Chester Zoo are now conducting a captive breeding program. Isn't it sad.

Human beings are not content to subjugate and enslave each other. When I worked in Tenerife, we often found baby chimpanzees dead on the beach. Their photographer owners would drug them and dress them in baby clothes. They were cute. People loved having their picture taken with a baby chimp. The trouble is that babies grow up and then they are not useful: then they are drowned in the sea and wash up on the beach. The photographer just gets another baby chimp - wrenched from it's grieving mother - a near relative of every one of us. The world closes its eyes to the exploitation of wild creatures. We are still unable to stop the exploitation of children in third world countries and sex slavery in our own.

Caged Bird
by Maya Angelou
     

     A free bird leaps
 on the back of the wind
     and floats downstream
     till the current ends
     and dips his wing
     in the orange sun rays
     and dares to claim the sky.
 
     But a bird that stalks
     down his narrow cage
     can seldom see through
     his bars of rage
     his wings are clipped and
     his feet are tied
     so he opens his throat to sing.
 
    The caged bird sings
    with a fearful trill 
    of things unknown
    but longed for still
    and his tune is heard
    on the distant hill
    for the caged bird 
    sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
    and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
    and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
    and he names the sky his own.  
  
    But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
    his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
    his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
    so he opens his throat to sing.
  
   The caged bird sings
   with a fearful trill
   of things unknown
   but longed for still
   and his tune is heard
   on the distant hill
   for the caged bird
   sings of freedom.
 
 
Thank you for reading - Adele


Reactions:

1 comments:

Steve Rowland said...

Don't enslave the bird! It's a tremendous (anti-slavery) poem and a terrific blog. Thank you.