Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why birds (and animals) mean so much to me

Here I am - taking a break from writing... and what do I do? I write even more. This morning, on my way to the supermarket, one of the local black-backed seagulls was flying along my side for a short distance and I was wondering about the life of seagulls. I wondered whether they have similar problems to human beings or whether their life is easier on an emotional level. Of course, there are people who say that animals do not have emotions but I believe that birds have souls and that they are very intelligent.

I think that we simply never really studied seagulls closely enough - at least I have never seen anything written about the social life of seagulls (apart from the usual stuff life breeding, nesting etc.). However, when you watch seagulls, you will notice that they all have different characters. Some are more careful than others and there are always a few seagulls who could be called "unpopular". They try to be part of the group but often get picked on. It might just be my perception, but I see different expressions on the faces of seagulls - maybe it's just because I spent so much time watching them (and also talking to one or the other individual).

People often find it odd that I have such a strong connection to birds (esp. seagulls) and animals in general (as long as they don't swim and/or have more than four legs). In this blog entry, I'd like to explain my connection to animals - either you understand it or you don't. I don't really care that much about people's opinions any longer.

Animals have been part of my life since I was a kid - there were always some kinds of pets in our household. I can remember that there were just budgies and hamsters in the beginning. They meant a lot to me because I could simply spend time with them without having to explain my need for company (looking back on this, it's actually quite sad that a kid was relying on pets for company). My little budgies were always quite happy to play with me and were very entertaining. Later on, I had a pet rabbit (a small one because I wasn't allowed to get a rat) and in addition to the budgies we suddenly also had cockatiels because we took care of one that had flown away and we couldn't find the original owner (but we didn't want it to be alone, so we got her a companion). 

When I got older, I didn't have my own pets anymore because since 2005 I moved around a lot and thought it would be very unfair on an animal to abandon it. My last "own" pet had been the rabbit when I was 14-16 years old. His death was such a tragedy for me, I never wanted to have another pet again (but we always had birds in the family). The death of an animal has always been worse for me than the death of people - and still is. It's just lucky that I never saw a dead seagull.... I'd be suffering for a few days.

In New Zealand, I kept my connection to animals, I loved that there were birds all over the place and in 2005 I discovered my love for seagulls (there were none of them where I used to live). The first time I saw a black-backed seagull, I just fell in love with them. I also visited zoos when I had the chance. I'm one of the people who puts her hands into the cages of animals (mainly birds) and never gets bitten by them.

And why do I have that connection to animals? It's simple: they don't care about where I'm from. They don't care about how old or young I am. They don't judge me based on my income or social status. They don't care about qualifications and passports. They care only about one thing: about how you treat them. They just see who you really are and either accept you or don't. There are no lies, no deceiving, no intentional hurts. You can tell birds that you love them without being hurt by their words.

My most recent bird encounters

For a few days, I was lucky enough to spend time in a wonderful place - there were many animals, among them hundreds of birds (and there was also one very special human being, but that's a different story). A very dear friend of mine is a pigeon racer and I was lucky because he allowed me to join him in his pigeon lofts and learn about his birds. Every time he put a pigeon into my hands, I was quite happy but also worried because I didn't want to break any of their bones - so I probably handled them far too carefully but my friend was very patient and didn't tell me off. 
There was also one very special chicken to which I felt quite connected, probably because it's separated from "society" as much as I am. It's living close to the pigeon lofts and sleeps in a tree all on its own (because my friend had put it there after he noticed that I was worried about the little thing). 

During my stay with my friend, I also was lucky enough to see many sea-birds - among them (of course) my beloved seagulls. So, when I saw that seagull in the morning, I decided to write a blog entry about my connection to birds - and here it is.

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