Our Cultural Connection with Birds

Birds have intrigued us through the ages and have inspired an enormous amount of art and literature. In fact, Aldous Huxley famously claimed that “if you took the avifauna out of English verse you would have to dispose of half the poetic canon.”

The Goldfinch - novel by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch – Winner of 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Species extinction shrinks not just the diversity of our planet, but also shrinks us culturally. We regularly use other species as metaphors for ourselves, and birds in particular, with their variety of colours and sounds, have been used as symbols extensively.

Flyway Protection

The Amur Falcon is a small raptor remarkable for having one of the longest migratory routes of any bird. Its annual migration takes it a distance of around 14,500 km  between Mongolia and Southern Africa. It crosses the breadth of India to the Arabian Sea and travels non-stop for 2-3 days across the water (a distance of 2500 – 3100 km) to reach east Africa.  From there it continues its journey down the coastline of eastern Africa to reach its winter destination in the southern parts of Africa. Read more details of the Amur Falcon migration.

Female Amur Falcon

Female Amur Falcon – Drew Heath (Wikipedia)

My interest in bird conservation was awakened when I read about the massacre in 2012 of Amur Falcons at their flyway stopover in Nagaland, India. As birds are not bounded by national borders, we sought an organisation with a global approach and BirdLife International fit the bill perfectly.

BirdLife International

BirdLife covers the four corners of the earth as it is a global partnership of independent organisations. The success of its programmes can be attributed to the combined use of scientific data with practical, on-the-ground feedback. Through its unique ‘Local to Global’ methods, BirdLife has become recognised as an authority on biodiversity conservation and its work with birds provides much information about the state, pressures and responses needed to conserve all nature.