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It’s for the birds

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Feathered friends

Watching birds is the most fascinating activity. Who would have thought that the many birds floating down like leaves from the tree to feed on the lawn would have spats and arguments? It comes down to scarce resources, of course. And to family ties, to looking out for your friends.

For the feast, red and yellow finches, the not so peaceful pigeons and turtledoves, robins, sparrows, and to the delight of the watcher, occasionally the shy hoopoo will put in an appearance. And of course the pin-tailed whydahs; small, red-beaked, white breasted birds with black coats and tails.

The pin-tailed whydah guards his territory ferociously, constantly, aggressively. Let no feathered contender be mistaken about his intentions. He will dart down from his perch from where he surveys his territory and attack the flock of eager diners daring to jump the pecking order.

He sits on the electrical fence, waiting and watching, swooping down while sending out his war cry. Then, behold, there are two of them. He now has to watch one of his own daring to encroach on his females and his territory. After much prancing and postulating along the top and bottom wires, the braver of the two will move either up or down one step. This leaves the other one to decide if the harem and the territory are worth the fight.

When this battle is over, the winner will turn his attention to the peacefully pecking flock below and with a shrill battle cry descend on their unsuspecting heads. They scatter in all directions – onto the roof, into the trees, into the blue sky. The females remain undisturbed, sure in the knowledge that they are looked after.

The similarity between our feathered friends and human beings is striking. In the interest of power, survival and procreation, does the human race really differ so much from the birds, or any other animal, for that matter?

We cannot proclaim it is only for the birds.

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