Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Bonds Between Birds and People

Some of my Nature Canada colleagues have returned from the BirdLife International conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and packed into Ruth's bag was a magnificent -- and heavy -- book called Birds and People: Bonds in a Timeless Journey. It's a BirdLife publication, one of those massive coffee table books where every photograph is the length of my arm and takes my breath away.

I just wanted to share part of what appears on the inside jacket of this book, because I think it beautifully captures the enduring relationship between people and birds and helps explain our endless fascination with these creatures:
"In equal measure birds have given us lore and legend, inspiration and imagery, logos and leitmotivs, money and meat, omelettes and eiderdowns, sport and spectacle, warnings and weaponry, company and class, song and dance, fashion and fertiliser, science and insight, wonder and delight; and their services to us in terms of biological control and environmental monitoring are crucial and irreplaceable. Recognising this will take us a long way towards realizing the
nature of the bond we share with birds and all living things..."

With more than half of the world's population now living in urban areas, and children more familiar with Yoda and Miley Cyrus than they are with birds and bugs, and with many of us, as Birds and People reads, "shut away behind glass for most of the year...harnessed all day to our computer and cellphone screens", the bond between us and the natural world has never seemed weaker.

But if it's true that there exists a cultural, scientific and spiritual connection between man and birds that has survived for eons, it's also true that birds are, for us, the greatest hope for reconnecting with nature overall...or that's my hope, at least. So I'm going to read this hefty tome, enjoy its pictures, and connect.

Photo thanks to to Connie, Dwayne and little Grace, whose connection to birds started (continued?) with her rescue of baby robins who had fallen from their tree during a storm in Manitoba.