Often – when I see a bird in flight – swooping low and climbing again – I’m reminded of the words of the profoundly beautiful poem written by John Gillespie. He died at the age of 19 during WW2. The poem was written about his experience as a pilot in The Royal Canadian Air Force – but it has always made me think about how a bird must see the world.
How incredible to be a bird – the gift of flight – the freedom to soar!
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Every imaginable size, shape and colour of bird exists on our planet – from the delicate beauty of the Hummingbird to the mighty Eagle, the saucy Crow, the exotic Parrot and the noble Canada Goose – who bonds for life and mourns deeply if his mate is lost. The iconic Canada Loon is a mainstay of life on the lake for summer cottage dwellers.
All birds have their role to play in life and we should help them if and when they’re in peril. They face many challenges in the world today – some that you might not think of readily.
Disturbed, migratory pathways due to human conflict.
Airplanes – very common with Canada Geese.
Pleasure hunting and hunting birds that are deemed to be a niusance.
Poaching – especially rare and exotic birds that are taken and sold for enormous profit.
City Life can be very difficult for birds.
City Buildings at night and car strikes.
Winter feeding by people. If you are going to feed them all year – then make that commitment. Don’t feed them all year and then switch to winter feeding only. Be consistent. Otherwise feed them only from November until April.
The world would be a lesser place without bird songs – and chirps – so make their lives easier when you can!