A friend sent me a fantail for my birthday. One you assemble yourself. It sat in its box for a week or two, so I took it to my nephew. He and his siblings also assembled the nano lego I was given a few Christmases ago. Apologies to the gift givers – but I did enjoy watching them being assembled!
I have another fantail which was given to me long ago and which I’m pretty sure I assembled myself. Here are the two fantails and the book I’ve been reading.
The book is fascinating – with chapters on the senses and magnetic sense and emotions of birds. It is also sad. Here’s an excerpt:
I visited New Zealand while writing this book, and when I wasn’t chasing kiwi and kakapo I took a few days off to visit Fiordland on South Island. The weather was perfect and the scenery spectacular, but the most striking aspect of this area was its auditory desolation. I have rarely been anywhere so quiet. Peaceful, yes, but this was a melancholic silence. The birds that once inhabited the forests clothing the steep-sided valleys have all been killed by the predatory stoats and weasels that the early settlers foolishly introduced. Native birdsong is absent across mainland New Zealand and made me wonder whether the introduced dunnocks, blackbirds and thrushes sing more softly in New Zealand than in their native Europe due to the lack of competition.
Some years ago I was shocked to hear that even seagulls are threatened with extinction. And our loveable kea also. Somehow, against all reason, I have collected stuffed toys of our native birds. I’m quite interested in the psychology which goes with adults having stuffed toys, and I expect it shows some emotional need. Perhaps loss and grief.
I bought this little rooster at the Otago Museum after visiting a dear friend I knew I was soon to lose to cancer. Her family had a flock of beautiful hens outside the living room window where we sat together, and somehow buying the toy held that memory. I didn’t know then that I would have my own backyard chickens several years later.
The same friend would buy me owls. Her daughter once sent me a pop-up owl card. I’ve only seen owls – moreporks – twice in the wild, although I’ve heard them when bush walking. The actual sightings were at Anderson’s Park in Invercargill when I was a child, and once at Zealandia several years ago.
Here’s my line up of native bird toys. I suspect I bought them to hold onto something I knew was precarious. The kea (right) was purchased at Aoraki Mount Cook where I was fascinated by the kea perching on the hotel railing. I have seen little blue penguins (second from left) coming in to their burrows in Oamaru. Pukeko (left) can be seen every day as you pass through Travis wetland. I heard kiwi when I was on Rakiura Stewart Island many years ago, but have otherwise only seen them in captivity. Only the moa in this line up is extinct – so far.
Piwakawaka fantails seem less at risk – for now. They flit about my backyard most days, chirping high in the trees, then swooping low and fast, catching insects.
3 thoughts on “Loss”
Birds make wonderful mementoes. I have a flock of bird ornaments on my bathroom window sill that remind me of people and places.
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That is a coincedence I just wrote a poem a few days ago about the birds and pukeko in Travis wetland
I actually never realised the absence of the birds in Fiordlands and mainland New Zealand. That’s very sad
Love your stuffed animals. If you collect them A friend of my daughter makes them especially endangered ones
If you are interested it’s here https://www.stuffedkingdom.com/
I have heard very noisy bird song on the West Coast near Punakaiki. Thanks for your comment and the link. What great toys and paperless products your daughter makes!