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Our Amazing Birds

29th June 2018 @ 6:06am – by David B. Keogh
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Virtually all species of birds have something unique about them. It maybe the song, plumage, character or some other aspect of its nature. A Robin is friendly, a Song Thrush sings beautifully, a Pheasant looks gorgeous and the chirrupy House Sparrow is often our nearest neighbour.

Then there is flight. Wonderful. Whether a Swift cruising high in the sky, a Swan lifting powerfully from a lake or a Skylark climbing joyfully skywards.

Flight is what makes birds the world champions. Living in every place on the planet. Not only living but surviving, be it in freezing wastes, hot deserts, in high mountains and even in dark caves. In Britain, they live through changing seasons, each bringing its own demands.
Imagine a Goldcrest or Wren and many other birds, weighing a few ounces, (a few teaspoons of sugar), sleeping alone in freezing temperatures, and they eat insects! How do they survive? Do we see dead birds laying around after weeks of cold weather? I have not witnessed such a scene and that's another odd thing.

What other living things have to live outside for most of their lives? Mammals don't, nor amphibians, or insects, spiders or anything else. Fish might be an exception but then they are cold-blooded. Birds are high energy warm-blooded creatures like us and we know all about the weather!

So, birds are unique in every way. But there is something, for me at least, beyond understanding and marvellous. It's to do with flight. How do birds land in a bush, tree or anywhere else for that matter? Watch a Blackbird whizz across the garden and land perfectly on a branch. It must be doing around 30mph!
Or, a Robin flying at speed through a trellis or a nuisance Magpie dropping on to your tv aerial.

peregrin falcon

And the majestic Peregrine falcon waiting high up to track a fast moving pigeon far below. At upwards of a 100 mph it connects with the pigeon as if it was flying behind it!

swift

Beyond all our British birds, a few stand super special in the world of flight. The Peregrine and the Swift. Both are masters of the essence of being a bird...flight. One, the supreme hunter, the other the glory of flight.
For me, a jet-fighter in flight, yet can cruise with hardly a wingbeat, with the eyes of a dragon, sleeps on the wing and yet such a majestic bird wishes only our roofspace to make its rare touchdown.
The Swift.

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