Ducks Flying the Pacific Flyway, our Fancy Brothers
Millions of ducks, geese and swans travel the Pacific Flyway, a road in the sky that leads from Canada through Washington, Oregon, and California, and inland through Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. These birds are shot down in the millions also. Instead of shooting them, we should lay down the weapons and help them to live on the earth, that we share with them.
A mythological creature
of Weather Goddesses and Emperors
complete in regal bearing
adorned in the finest robe
of snow white and fair gray feathers
with charcoal black markings
The Snow Goose
holds its head
in an angelic spell
that throws soft
light to the spheres
that returns in a breath
10 fold as
it lowers its eyelids
Pacific Fly Way
Pacific Ocean - west coast, coastal, near the oceans, marshes, wetlands, water emerges from the earth, soaking the earth to mud, reeds grow, tadpoles swim, storks wade knee deep.
The birds of the Pacific Flyway, birds of water and land. They fly high, lightly through the open skies, and land near oceans and lakes for rest and food.
Gathering together in flocks, birds of a feather, as the air grows colder and the sun lays lower. The different kinds of birds making their sounds, shuffling and mixing in groups, readying themselves for a journey across the continent, from the cool north across the coastal states of Washington, Oregon, California, the inland states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming Some travel farther south to South America.
This is something the birds have always done. Living in colder climates that have the more nourishing terrain and plant food, then flying south to avoid the icy cold winters. Birds migrate to seek suitable climates and food. They live in harmony with the environment. Humans have also migrated for thousands of years, not only in search of food sources and more hospitable climates, but also in search of treasures and wealth.
The duck is a migrating bird that travels the Pacific Flyway. Though many birds have the generic plain name of Duck, within the duck family there is a fantail spray of individual kinds of ducks, each with its own unique design, anatomy, calls, ways of fishing and finding plant food, raising young, living in groups. They have many fancy feathered dresses with bright colors and earthen colors, and camouflage patterns. They have different temperaments. Some graceful, some quick. They have different flying and water diving abilities. Each bird is an individual within the boundaries of its species. Each species is its own kingdom or tribe with its own customs, rituals, and life ways that are written in their DNA and acted out on the earth stage.
As humans, we share the earth with all of these unique and splendid creatures with their own tribal identities. The Merganser ducks, pintail ducks, the redhead ducks, tundra swans fly high in the emptiness and dizzying heights, in the air, sailing the skies. Along their long travels from the cold north to more tropical regions, they stop along the way to rest and find food. Then they pick up again and continue their journey, sky-hopping across the continent, the small marshes and coastal beaches their landing pads.
As they fly from Canada, across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and California, and into Mexico and farther south, astounding numbers of them are shot down from the sky or shot while paddling their webbed feet in the lakes and ponds where they have paused on their journey. By the hundreds, the small handsome ducks are shot, in the thousands the large breasted, long-necked Canadian geese are shot. By the tens, twenties, fifties in numbers are the grand and elegant swans knocked out of the sky with bullets from rifles, shot by hunters waiting for them as they travel overhead and land to rest.
What was once a bright, quick moving creature with fluffed feathers of white, red and green, with sharp pretty eyes and tiny silken tufts on their heads, is changed by a bullet into a dull, lifeless body, head hanging down, body fallen in. All vitality has disappeared, the spirit has gone. The small duck will fly no more. It will not reach its happy destination. It will never more flap its wings in the rain or sunshine, or show off its plumage. It will no longer play fencing games with rivals or perform special dances that have their own messages to their kind.
What is on the other side of the balance sheet for taking the life of this duck? The recreational activity of shooting a rifle at a moving target, a living being and taking its life away from it. Having as an end goal for the wading into the marsh with knee-high galoshes, the taking of the small duck's life. This recreational hunting activity gives the "sensible" excuse for being outdoors for a day. Wouldn't it be far better to value a day out in the wilds, in the marshes for the person who hunts to say rather, that they had the great privilege and opportunity to get close enough to a splendid duck to be able to see it swim or dive, for that to be sufficient in observing it alive, instead of finding it necessary to cut its life off and call that something accomplished.
Instead of boys, young and older men pose with pictures of rows of dead geese in a field, it would be far nobler and life-affirming to have the boys and men being caretakers of the marshes and lakes where the ducks land, by attending toward better conservation of the land, of the purity of the water, of greater expanse of reedy places for the ducks. Instead of teaching children how to hunt and kill, far better to teach them how well the chicks are nurtured by their own parents and how much time, love and energy go into raising a baby chick, so that they can go on to become an adult and have a vibrant life of flying, swimming and nesting. To take a rifle and shoot a duck takes a matter of seconds. To raise the duck from a chick, feed and nurture it, teach it to live in the world takes months. It is beyond the capacity of any human or human society to raise and tend to a whole flock of ducks, being something only the creator of the earth and its creatures can attend to. Humans can strive at best for being able caretakers of the life that has already been created.
For every kind of duck, goose, and swan, you can have a small society devoted to being their sisters and brother humans to bird, understanding all about their lives, watching and waiting as they migrate across and celebrating their migration. Dressing up in costumes that look like that particular duck or goose and learning how to make the bird's special calls. Instead of hunting societies that just shoot bullets and take away the duck's life, you could have little duck-human tribes that celebrate and praise the ducks existence and send them love to continue to live and express gratitude for the beauty they bring and our relationship with them.
The history of humans and relationship of animals has gone through changes over the last few centuries. It has gone from the original hunting relationship, which was of absolute necessity for human survival, just as the wild animals need to kill to survive in the wild, the wolves and weasels. Humans then domesticated some animals for food and to do farm work. The tradition of sport hunting developed as an elitist leisurely activity by wealth landowners in Europe. With the development of the gun, the animals really had no chance, because of the great ease and expediency with which they could be killed. Humans then went on a quest to catalog the different types of animals. Even while there was this ferocious activity of cataloguing them, humans were not learning anything in depth about how they lived or their inter-relations. Humans have gotten caught up in using their own skills of cataloguing and dissecting and drawing, and being so proud of their own human skills, that the lives of the wild animals, such as the birds, and appreciation for them has not been fully developed. Scientists are still discussing evolutionary lines of some animals, at the same time that many have gone extinct, and greater numbers of them will go extinct in the coming decades with declining habitat and pollution from human overpopulation.
We have developed technical abilities over our caretaking and protective abilities. Humans do appreciate the beauty and lives of the wild birds and this is the direction we need to go in for balance living on earth, humans with animals. We need to leave off with the feverish technical pursuits that humans pride themselves on and also of the outdated, inhumane practice of killing as a recreational activity. We need to develop a vital, life-enhancing relationship with our feathered friends, that we share the earth with, so that they can call us brothers, and humans live up to their potential and innate abilities to be conscientious and caregiving.
Sea Duck Smew, Cornell Ornithology Lab, http://macaulaylibrary.org/video/17977 (full of beauty)
Pacific Flyway Data Book 2008, from Oregon Fish and Wildlife
contribute to this article
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion
view discussion from this article