In fond memories of my beloved Lucky Dog
My family has always been fond of animals. We had many kinds at home before, even those you couldn’t have imagined (such as orang utan, small marmoset/very small monkey and deer – we returned them to the forest of course). But the most cherished and often in the scene are cats, birds and fish. We’re a bunch of animal lovers. In my posting this time, I wanted to share my story about birds.
I remember when I was little; we used to have many kinds of bird in big cage. My father and brothers especially always insisted for big bird cage, or bird house to be exact so that the birds will not feel too trapped inside. It's understood that birds too need some space to live just like human being. Now that I am an adult, I just hate seeing birds in cages. I wish I could free them. But it’s not as easy as that. Once birds are caged, it might not know how to live in the wild anymore because it used to being fed and no longer know how to find food. We used to have colourful love birds, hill myna (tiong), pigeons (merpati and merbuk) and a few other species that I don't know of. They all were part of our life once upon a time ago.
In the garden where I work now, there are lots of birds around. In the morning and at dusk, their chirping was very visible. This sooth me somehow to know that birds are living in harmony in our garden. I had this crazy belief that if a bird comes near you, it’s a good omen. I will speak to it and believe that it will understand my speech. Birds are like a messenger that carries my news; they will hear my plight and bring it up to the sky for God to hear :) Ummm…. That’s just a superstitious belief.
I talked to birds and cats all the time, greet them if they are lingering nearby me. All living things have feelings. They could feel joy and they could feel pain, hence they have souls. The photo I took here proves that a bird can feel the pain of losing its partner. The bird on my desk here was looking very sad because its partner had died of broken neck. It sat there beside the dead bird for a long time until one of my staff brought it to me. And it stayed on my office desk oblivious to its surrounding unmoving even when I touched it. I stroked its feathers, it just let me. I touched its beak, it just let me, then I took a water straw, put a little water through the plastic straw, so it had no choice but to swallow. A few minutes later, it regained consciousness and became more elert. There’s nothing wrong with it, just plain depression of losing a partner that it lost the will to find its own food. I gave it to the vet later on and the vet promised to look after it then will release it back to the wild.
We’ve seen and read also in our daily lives of how a cat or a dog gets traumatized if handled wrongly by its owner. I could even tell the different personality of my cats, one is cheeky, and the other one is obedient. They all have different kind of soul. Human beings are created above all creatures on earth as the ‘khalifah’ (the leader). So therefore our function is to protect weaker beings, all things precious to our living and to retain balance of the ecosystem (all living things has its purpose of existence) and we need to stop unnecessary destructions towards animals and nature. That’s why I love my job. It educates people especially children about the relation of nature to our existence and why we need to conserve it.
Getting back to the main topic of discussion here, about birds; I saw once in the Discovery Channel the beautiful Bird of Paradise (species that can be seen in the deep jungle) makes funny sounds with its wings during mating time. And there was this bird dance that blows your head off because you just can't think of how a bird can do a moon walk and other ridiculous things. It’s amazing.
Bird of Paradise is a mystical creature due to its beauty and rarity. The Chinese called it Phoenix while the Malay called it ‘Cenderawasih’. The real Cenderawasih are believed to be born in paradise, they live in the sky and only come down to die. It is believed that some people in Indonesia have seen Cenderawasih that descents from paradise, but once in every seven years. Anybody who sighted them is considered the lucky ones.
There was one Malay song sung by Ahmad Jais (a popular Malay singer in the 60s) that sang about this bird and relating it to a lover’s longing for his beloved;
By Ahmad Jais
Cenderawasih… burung di awan, (Cenderawasih, a bird in the sky)
Terbang melayang berkawan-kawan, (Fly away in twos)
Terbayang di mata siang dan malam, (On my mind night and day)
Rindu kasih pada mu tuan. (Longing and loving you)
Cenderawasih burung di awan, (Cenderawasih, a bird in the sky)
Terbang melalu segenap desa, (Fly high above all terrain)
Terbayang di mata setiap masa, (On my mind, always)
Rindu di hati terlalu biasa. (Heart is yearning, all too common)
Cenderawasih burung di awan, (Cenderawasih, a bird in the sky)
Terbanglah hinggap di pohon yang tinggi, (Fly high to the highest tree)
Terbayang di mata dapat dipasti, (On my mind, that is sure)
Rindu melarat membawa mati. (Yearning for you till the death of me)
Don’t you love things mystical such as this :)
Now another romantic side of birds; their mating time is in winter and summer. It is believed that in ancient time people in Europe celebrated February 14th as a time to find their bride. This is following the act of birds. Birds usually will find their mate on the 14th February each year (that’s what they believed). That is actually how the old story of Valentine’s Day begun; it was way back before the existence of Saint Valentine.
Birds are a symbol of romantic love and courtship. In finding their mate, they will sing their song, do their sacred dance and they court their love interest. During the courting period, the male will try to impress the female and some species even feed the female at this particular point. E.g. pigeons usually are known to mate for live and there are other species as well who stayed with their couple for the longest time.
However, not all stories are a happy one. The bird flu is one of the bad news, then there’s the development around us that destroyed the habitat of most birds. Birds have to adapt to living side by side with human being and that’s not easy as well. For instance in the garden where I work, I have seen many death of birds such as in the photos. Most of it died because of broken neck caused by collision with glasses around our main building. They don’t see the glasses in their vision because of the reflections. It was really sad. I took all their photos as evidence and for my personal collections as you can see here. I wish I could suggest someone to build a nature friendly building in the future, but of course not all wishes can come true. It involves the demolition of huge building with equal fund to match. Looks like I have to see more deaths such as these especially in February.
Okay, that’s about it. All things I know and care to share so far about birds. It has been a great pleasure to write it down after keeping it in my folder for so long. I hope you all could enjoy it as much as I do writing it down with my heart.