Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bird Watching

GERALDINO, Shaula Mae P.

I have a lot of appreciation for how green the campus is. Sometimes it gives way to annoyance because of the insects and the slight smell of rot a few days after a hard rain, but abundant shade and fresher air outweigh most of the cons. It shouldn’t be, but it is surprising to realize that there are other consequences of having so many trees around.

At a half-walk, half-jog down the sidewalk with an occasional glance left and right to make sure no one runs you over, a glance down when your sneaker catches against a crack on the concrete, and a glance away when you’re not wearing an ID and the guard gives you the stink-eye, there’s not much time to even think about looking up to spot any birds in the trees or in the sky. Occasionally you’ll see one land in the middle of a quiet street then hop around before flying away again, or at the edge of your vision will be a dark blur but you don’t really pay attention. At least that’s me. And the furthest things from my mind would be to try to count how many I’ve seen or, God forbid, what kind they are.

Maybe it’s that I assumed at the homogeneity of city birds that I was so interested in how the bird community in the campus could be so diverse. Every compact and fast moving one should be a maya, the bigger grey ones always in the air are definitely pigeons, anything white is a dove, and the clucky ones shedding feathers on the grass are most likely chickens. The fact that owls, woodpeckers, and even eagles have been spotted and photographed in the early mornings right outside where I try not to fall asleep at a 7 am class almost inspires me to get up an hour earlier to share the experience. Almost.

The way that something so normal as getting to see birds can be systematized and turned into a science, now that’s the most interesting of all. And even within that- after the areas have been divvied up, the timer set, bird behaviour studied enough that you can relatively predict when and where it’s best to direct your eyes- even then there is randomization. Many scientific discoveries were made by accident after all, and it’s useful to remember when meticulous organization and exhaustive research stop working.

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