As part of my “get out and see a bit of Auckland with outsider’s eyes” mission, I popped along to the Auckland War Memorial Museum yesterday afternoon. There are all sorts of exhibits across multiple floors – everything from Chinese tapestries to Spitfire aircraft, giant fossils to 19th century New Zealand classroom replicas, but as usual, I was drawn to the native birds.
It seems to be a thing I do. On a recent road trip in the States, I was endlessly fascinated by the various birds I saw – particularly the birds of prey: the hawks, eagles and falcons. I saw a woodpecker too – that was kind of cool.
In Britain, I’m always excited to see a peregrine or a sparrowhawk (though never quite sure – nor particularly care – which is which) and I love seeing the red kites over the motorway whenever I head down to London from Birmingham.
There’s no shortage of birds to be amazed by here in New Zealand too: tuis, fantails, the kereru and the wonderful pukeko. I should just admit to myself that I have a bit of a thing about birds. Not sure what it is – a fascination, I guess – but it’s definitely a thing.
Oddly, though – my fascination does not (so far) extend to an interest in identifying them, collecting sightings, learning facts about them (for instance, their names) and so on. I do not imagine myself ever becoming a “birder” – and I certainly don’t ever want one in the house. Birds in cages tend to be uniformly unpleasant additions to any home.
Ultimately, I think that birds are amazing and spellbinding – without actually being interesting. Perhaps there’s something about coming from a land that was once occupied exclusively by birds – and no mammals other than maybe a species of bat or two. Or maybe it’s just a quirk I have.
All the same, I really like birds. Always have. I genuinely marvel at them. They speak to something symbolic that I find meaningful in ways I haven’t quite unravelled.
I guess they give me a sense of wonder when they’re in flight, and I find them aesthetically pleasing when they’re at rest (or happen to be flightless). They’re majestic and comedic in equal measure. I like that a lot.
I look at birds and just think “wow”. Nothing more articulate or comprehensible than that – just “wow”.
David Attenborough did a series about them, if I remember correctly. Might track that down and watch it again. In the meantime, here’s a bunch of photos I took at the museum yesterday.