Winged Fate

No, Really, It’s a Bird
& It’s Heading This Way

A funny thing has happened with our relationship with birds: we’re beginning to hate them.
Except when we love them. In any case, the whole thing became very complicated.
Since the beginning of times (and that’s the kind of intro many an epic has started; not in this case, though), humans have looked upon birds and dream.
As our imagination soared, hoping that one day we could ourselves fly and be as free as we thought they should be, our collective mood towards them kind of soured.
Fine, so we couldn’t fly like birds? No matter, we invented the several-tons heavy airliner to fly even higher and faster than them.
The birds counterattacked by letting themselves be swallowed whole by the plane’s turbines, and down we came crashing.
Oh, yeah? Let’s shoot them cold, specially near airports, and there goes another chapter on this curiously virulent inter-species relationship.
Remember at the turn of the year? Thousands of birds fell from the sky and the best explanation, fireworks, didn’t really account for the massive demise.
Granted, fish also died in big numbers around the time, and even frogs dropped dead. Definitely something sinister and not quite explained was apace.
Now, according to The Awl’s blogger Choire Sicha, humans have apparently enrolled a whole class of professionals, architects, to design deadly towers that can bring to a tragically halt the flight of even the most gracious of the avian creatures.

What probably tickled the blogger off was a New York Times story this week, about how tall glass towers can exact a heavy toll on birds, crunching some staggering figures in this perceived war as an example.
Birds mostly die in high-speed collisions against New York skyscrapers, to the tune of about 90,000 a year, which also includes those geese that are rounded up and gassed to death as hazards to flight paths over the city.
Understandably, cats, their natural killers in suburbs, rural areas and in the wild, are catching a break on these deaths, even from those fierce birds advocates who always seem to point fingers at them first.
Cats will be cats, of course, but try to explain that to bird watchers.
In any event, we do point a finger at Alfred Hitchcock and his 1963 suspenseful feature for instilling such an irrational animosity towards what’s left of the ancient dinosaurs still flapping about.
Then again, as soon as the T.Rex and its kind enter the picture, people tend to have that uncalled for urge to run, as if we had ever lived side by side with them.
We honestly don’t know what can be done to ease such feeling and, above all, protect these mostly fragile creatures from following the way of their own ancestors.
New Yorkers usually fail to understand how come pigeons, those dirty creatures they sometimes call “rats with wings,” can be even related to the white doves politicians and international sports event officials like to liberate to great effect.
But it’d be utterly unfair to say that the gentle populace of this great city of ours has any serious ill-intent against the birds’ nature-giving right to fly about.
As long as their drops don’t fall on our lunch, or they avoid being swallowed by the engines of our plane to somewhere warmer, all will be fine.
If one looks at the big picture, however, it turns out that in some places birds do catch a break. And for reasons as mysterious as those invoked to explain our progressive irritability with them.
For instance, a curious study by Conservation Biology found out that birds are actually thriving in countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. That’s right. Apparently, they didn’t like the old regime one little bit.
The study speculates that, as farming declined in rural areas, songbirds multiplied undisturbed, while bigger-brain avian species showed better adaptability in urban societies.
We bet you didn’t know anything about big brain birds, eh? Neither did we.
It’s a good thing that, as with any piece of responsible scientific research, the conclusions are not final, because, honestly, we can’t even begin to understand why that’s so.
The fact remains, though, that there are more birds now in East Germany, the Czech Republic and other former Soviet nations, than observed before.
Which is also curious, for if one talks about the fall of the U.S.S.R. and the Cold War and all that, it’s inevitable to think of the skyscrapers of New York as symbols of the system most likely to have caused the collapse of the Politburo-centered regime: savage capitalism.
And, since they’re literally being killed by the thousands here, maybe it was not too wise for them to make the switch so fast. Perhaps next year or after, we’ll be hearing about birds returning to their homeland and promptly colliding against tall glass towers in Russia and dying.
By then, we’ll be completely exonerated of any responsibility on their demise. Take note of that, so you won’t forget it.

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