Birds

My passion for, and connection to the avian world

There exists a very strong, direct linkage between the DisinterMEDIA8 project, and birds.  The story of that linkage is deeply personal, and the single most influential aspect of my life that spawned this project.

On this page I will write, bit by bit, the story of how an oily bird re-birthed my life, and how I intend to serve our community as my eternal act of gratitude…so check back, if you are so inclined.

As a thin and frail lad living in various villages and camps in rural India during the 60’s, I never gave much thought to birds, or as much as anyone else.  My only interactions with birds turned out to be negative ones.  At least the ones I recall.  The first and most heinous was witnessing a cook chop the head off a chicken and then watching in horror as the chicken ran around the small, dark room.

During 1st or 2nd grade  our recess/lunch period was typically outside in the courtyard.   That a bunch of little Indian kids with food were emerging with timely precision five out of every seven days, was a fact that a gang of kites had  duly noted.  For those not familiar with the kite, here is a brief description, and then a video.

Kites are raptors with long wings and weak legs which spend a great deal of time soaring. Most feed mostly on carrion but some take various amounts of live prey. 

They are birds of prey which, along with hawks and eagles, are from the familyAccipitridae.

So yes, it is a raptor, like the one you saw in Jurassic Park.

The kite is known for her precision in flight, and as with all raptors, an other-worldly eyesight.  These qualities, coupled with the food-holding kids coming out precisely at noon everyday, made for my second series of bird encounters.

As I would walk out into the courtyard holding my roti and vegetables, a kite, probably hovering at a thousand feet or so, would identify the target in my hand, enter into a free fall like an arrow being shot from the sky towards Earth, and set its path to the target.

The actual transfer of food  probably took less than a half of a split second.  But the details are so vivid, that it seemed to me to be an epic battle to stay alive.  Time was no longer relevant.  The first sensation was the slap on the top of the head.  As the kite was hurtling towards my bread, right before arrival she had to immediately apply the air brakes.  That action caused a heavy feathery slap to the back of my head.  This was immediately followed by the sensation of pins pricking at the top of my shoulder, and then a large, sharp nail dragged heavily down my arm, with an (identical result).

By this point in the struggle my face was completely engulfed in wings and the flash of a powerful beak.  And then just as suddenly as it began, it ended.  All that was seen was a bird flying up and away from a little boy who would not be having lunch today.

This happened only two, perhaps three times, but the nightmares were with me every night for years.

Encounter number three was of the celluloid variety.  I somehow ended up going into a movie house and watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.  Enough said.

And finally, on my 12th birthday, after we had immigrated to the US, my parents gave me four finches.   They were dead within weeks and unceremoniously discarded.

Fast forward 40 years to one of the darkest chapters of mankind’s relationship to Earth – the BP Gulf oil disaster.  I was moved by the events that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico just like everyone.  As the scope of the disaster became clearer after the weeks and weeks of fouling, all of us suffered in some way, I suspect.

All through that horrible time, the most prominent thought that kept going through my head was the long term impact on the Earth’s ecology.  There was no shortage of nightmare scenarios.  And then, out of the mountains of bad news and worse predictions, a single photograph caught my eye.  That picture has remained emblazoned in my psyche, and will forever occupy that place.

This soul crushing image would change me and how I looked at the world in a profound way.

…………… to be continued …………..

All throughout the Gulf crisis one thought recurred in my mind, day and night.  What would all the birds who migrate through the Gulf experience when they stop at water’s edge to rest before their flight across the water to Mexico.  Admittedly, I had no idea at the time what species flew where at what time of year.  And although I realized that the effects would be severe, I also recognized that the ultimate result would not be known in my lifetime.  It was useless to contemplate an apocalyptic vision.  Whatever would happen, would happen whether I stressed about it or not.   But I did have the power to push the chain of causality and outcome ever so slightly, with the slightest effort.  Indeed, an idea was born.

In hindsight that period of time was pivotal, but at the time my mind had not absorbed the importance.  What I do recall is that one day, a feeling of excitement came over me and I rode my scooter down the hill to the Publix.  I went there to buy a small bag of bird seed.  Thereupon commenced a journey of love and service that had manifested itself as another key to unlocking certain truths that had so far evaded my consciousness:  The slightest effort in the face of insurmountable opposition will have an effect, and that effect will ripple in intensity as long as it was initiated with an intention born of truth.

…… next: The journey begins ……..

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