Saturday, May 16, 2015

The geopolitics of birds

My old home had a very special, very present feature. No less than thirty meters from it, some thousand jackdaws made their nests, and they did it with great alacrity.

They also did it with a large degree of noise, as you might imagine. When they all took flight at the same time, it was like hearing the ocean lapping onto shore. Or, to quote a line oft repeated by me, "their rising all at once was as the sound of thunder heard remote".

If you know the first thing about jackdaws, you know that they cackle. If you know the second thing, you know that anything (any thing) can set them off. If you know the third thing, you know that they are a flock species that reacts in a collective manner to individual distress.

Knowing all this, you can figure that there was a lot of birds and bird sounds going on. At all times.

There was also an (one, 1) owl living somewhere around. Just the one, mind.

Thing is, this state of being/birding was not an accident. (Except for the owl.) It was a result of a deliberative municipal policy. Specifically, it was a result of a policy to drive the jackdaws out of the city center. Not to any place in particular, just away from the parts where the commercial activity went down. Away from the, as you might imagine, rich people.

I did not live in a part of town where rich people resided.

This policy resulted in two things. The first thing is that the jackdaws migrated away from the central parts of town, out to the periphery, giving me this lovely experience. The second thing is that the jackdaws, after a while, moved back in to the central parts, being clever animals capable of outmaneuvering any attempts to keep them out. Only, they now resided both in the central parts and the periphery, whereas they before only kept themselves in the centre. Which, if you want to be blunt about it, means that there are now more jackdaws in the city, rather than less.

The cackling swirling vortex of solid blackness approves of this. It will not be moved.

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