It seems that on our journeys through life, we are forever trying to make sense of things. Questions shuffle across our mindscreens about big and little things. From fairly insignificant personal stuff to enormous questions about the nature of the universe.
For the past forty years I have been a regular feeder of birds in every season and this extended experience has thrown up a whole bunch of questions...
- Why don't magpies whistle - instead of cackling like the three witches in "Macbeth"?
- Can different species of bird communicate with each other?
- Why do pigeons seem so stupid when their navigation skills are so brilliant?
- How exactly do swallows make their way to Yorkshire from Africa each year?
- Having never seen goldfinches in our garden how come two arrived on the very morning I put up a new feeder containing niger seeds?
- Why do many gun crazy men in Malta and some other Mediterranean islands think it is okay to shoot birds, helping to drive them to extinction?
- Where do birds go when it is raining?
- How do all the other birds know to disappear when there's a sparrowhawk in our garden?
- Why are rooks such nervous birds when they are on the ground?
- Why have robins got red breasts?
I have asked
God Google all of these questions but the answers have characteristically been unsatisfactory or inconclusive. Besides, even though the questions have arisen, there is a sense in which I do not really want to know most of the answers. The mystery of what is unknown can be very appealing.