At first glance birds and humans seem very different from each other. Birds have wings, feathers, and bills. People don’t. But if you go beyond the differences in appearance, you will find that birds and humans have a great deal in common.
Birds and humans use their senses in very similar ways. Both birds and humans rely firstly on good vision, then hearing, then smell. This means that we explore and interact with he world in very similar ways. This makes birds easy for us to observe and understand.
It’s very clear to us what is going on when we see a bird eyeing a caterpillar before it pounces on it or inspecting a fruit for ripeness. We get the message when we hear a mother bird scolding its young. But what about when you see a dog taking a good, long sniff at a post? Or at another dog’s butt? Can you relate to that? Dogs have an acute sense of smell and pick up a world of information from a simple sniff that we humans with our weak sense of smell cannot even begin to fathom.
Many birds are active in the daytime and can be easily seen. They are easier to observe than many mammals that live hidden in burrows or are nocturnal. You could walk for hours in a forest and not see a single mammal. Or, like us, you could sit on the veranda of a little stone cottage and observe all kinds of bird life going on around you.
One afternoon shortly after it stopped raining, these three Spotted Doves (Streptopelia chinensis) came walking up the path towards our house. They were so intent on their business that they didn’t seem to notice our presence.
Then there was the pair of Spotted Doves courting on the round pen. The bird on the right (I’m assuming it’s the male) was following the bird on the left (the female) while calling out and bowing up and down.
This Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus rufulus) stood still, facing my direction for some time. Was he looking at me?
Then he made a sudden dash forward, and quickly ran away. Ah! He was after a tasty bug in the grass!
From the veranda, we can easily see the “regulars”. These are the species that are usually found in houses, gardens, disturbed areas, and among humans. Once in a while we get a few forest birds by the cottage, like when we heard a White-browed Shama calling nearby. The plan is to build up different bird habitats — forest, water, grassland — and get a wider variety of bird species.