Day whatever-the-heck-it-is of MCO 2.0 (Movement Control Order here in Malaysia, aka lockdown). I’ve come to notice and pay attention to the birds that occasionally visit, and find that they do in fact visit more than occasionally.
There is a trio of yellow long-beaked hummingbirds that squeak at a volume five times their size. They are fidgety and flutter from bud to leaf to flower to branch. My eyes could not keep up with their quick, darting bodies. I grow irritated. Maybe I’m the fidgety one.
There are zebra doves, ambling around the compound, seldom in flight, often on ground. They peck away at grass and concrete alike. I believe the ones I see are the same pair that shit on my father’s car parked under their tree. I am fond of them, as their names are called “merbuk” in Malay, and I grew up on a street called Jalan Merbuk.
There are the common mynas which are mostly annoying simply because they are common.
There is sometimes, much more rarely, a green-breasted wild pigeon, which we think roosts in the tree at the end of the street. In the dusk, it catches my attention mostly as a dark, round shape shooting by the corner of my eye. When it moves slowly enough to be observed, it’s observed. And in wonder. Its plume of fur-like feathers (or whatever you call the chest hair of birds) reflect a rich, shiny bluegreen, a colour that seems to only belong in deeper waters and deeper forests. Seeing such lavishness juxtaposed with the stupid-looking wide-eyed head of a pigeon is disorienting.
For the past two days now of cycling about my neighbourhood, I’ve encountered a flock of swifts at this particular stretch of road, right next to the forest. I say flock, but they were more like excitable little children running amok at a playground. Without warning and from all directions, they’d speed past my head and my wheels at such astonishing proximity that it’d jolt me every other time. If I reached out at the right time, I would’ve caused major trauma in their community. You could never see them coming. They’d dive bomb and side sweep and sometimes dash right into your face, banking at the last moment you’d have to blink. The playful little fuckers and their toying acrobatics are a scene to behold. A freeing, joyful scene — a privilege to be part of.
And of course, there are pigeons. When they gather, so does shit. I’m not a fan. There is a joke here somewhere.
Finally there is a type of bird whose flight is only ever provoked at the hands of humans. Here I have offered an image to illustrate:
All these I have found to be necessary in sustaining sanity.