The 8th edition of the Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary defines a bird watcher as one who watches birds in their natural environment and identifies different breeds as a hobby. I began doing this a few months ago. At the time, I did not know there was a name for such an activity. Now that I do, I consider myself a bird-watcher. I love birds. At the surface, it seemed this love was kindled accidentally. However, upon scrutiny, I realized my new-found love for these creatures was motivated by deep-seated reasons. As is the case with timeless love stories, they are best told (or written) from the beginning.
On the 5th of January, the year of our Lord, 2013, a young man was deeply engrossed in his studies. Intricacies of human nutrition were being unraveled with the utmost of concentration. It would have taken a happening of tremendous proportions to lift his eyes from the books spread out before him. Examples of such include a fatal accident nearby, an earthquake or (God forbid) the unexpected news of a loved one’s death. Nay, none of these happenings occurred. Instead, a simple, seemingly random event caught his attention that was initially thought to be devoted wholly to his studies at the time. A rapid fluttering movement was heard at the window. It persisted. He tried to ignore it but in vain. Irritated, he lifted his head to see what sort of creature was responsible for such undesired interruptions. He expected an insipid and ugly being. On the contrary, a beautiful yellow crested, green bird with a remarkable shine greeted his tired eyes. They came alive. The bird ignored this attention it was receiving as though one used to it. Going from one budding banana finger to the next, it sucked nectar from its flowers in admirable grace. The young man ignorantly thought it was a humming bird. Having seen one in a television documentary that behaved in a similar fashion, he could be forgiven for such an error. It was a variable sun bird-a Nectarinia venusta variable sun bird. And what a beauty it was. He later learnt, much to his amusement, that it was a male, and that the female was rather dull looking.
The little beauty seemed to be keenly aware that it was being watched for it momentarily stopped and stared in the direction of its audience. It surveyed him and his strange abode. It surveyed the even stranger trappings within it. Perhaps it wondered why any creature would need such a large home when its sole purpose was to lay your head in after a long day’s search for food and water. It returned its gaze at the young man, tilted his head up and down in rapid successive movements as if trying to make out the stature of the man. A long interval passed between them-enough to communicate sundry peculiarities in the young man’s life as opposed to its own. Through the bird’s penetrating eye, he perceived a few; that ambition had robbed him off the joy of life-he no longer enjoyed the beauty that is now, no longer appreciative of God’s providence in the moment; that his soul was trapped in his possessions such that the outdoor life was no longer relished-his life consisted of the trappings within his abode, trappings that were the source of his fleeting pleasures and enduring pain; that he had forgotten the art of singing for the sake of singing-that art that does not care for the approval of its audience and is so uplifting to the singer.
Instinctively, the bird knew it had achieved its objective-reminded a higher being the forgotten pleasures of ancient days. That life spent in too much ambition is futile and thus needs to be tempered by pauses of reflection. Reflections on the providence of God-that ever present help in time of need.
The young man paused from his wearisome studies, took a snapshot of the bird and watched it fly away. Since then a love for the outdoors was kindled. And every opportunity spent with his prudent kindred cherished.