As I flick through the hand colored bird engravings in our online store, I wonder how people can fail to be moved by the stunning beauty and courage of these amazing creatures. I also consider how much longer they will be welcomed home from their yearly trips.
It is no exaggeration to place some of our best loved birds in the category of endangered, where once they were in abundance and were taken very much for granted.
As I study the golden hues of the oriole and the amazing detail displayed within these miniature works of art, it becomes ever more apparent to me that the artist loves his subject.
James Stewart was the major contributing artist for the ‘Naturalist Library’ compiled by William Jardine during the Victorian era, producing over 1000 illustrations for the collection.
I know times have changed, but surely, the beauty of these birds can still be appreciated, by any culture and any place. They give a glimpse, a flash of color, as they fly past us. They do not belong to anyone and speak of the freedom that we all crave, as they dart in and out of our lives.
In the past, birds such as the Oriole, Swallows, and Red backed shrikes and the like were welcome regular visitors to our shores. Numbers have been dropping over recent years, which most had blamed on climate change and destruction of natural habitat. However, it appears, that something else, more sinister is taking place across vast stretches of Europe.
National Geographic published an article earlier in the year, about the traumatic experiences that migrating birds currently suffer while travelling across Europe.
It was heart breaking to read how certain countries view these beautiful birds as pests, food or sport.
This has always been the case to some extent however, with the use of new technologies and very sophisticated hunting techniques, some of Europe’s most beloved birds are facing an uncertain future.
Flying for thousands of miles, often without food and minimal rest, these birds heroically heed the call to mate in warmer climes. Throughout history, they have undoubtedly become subject to some culling and predators, as one might expect, but what they are suffering now is without mercy for even their existence as a species.
Now, we hear of mobile playing mating calls, being used to trap and kill huge numbers of these migrating birds. Using the most awful and cruel methods of capture, such as lime sticks and nets, these birds are then disposed of in a variety of ways.
Viewed as mere ‘visitors’ these stunning, vulnerable birds are subjected to barbaric deaths at the hands of man, for greed and sport.
Surely things will change, when these countries realise that these creatures are no longer in abundance, but are a rare visitor, they are once again glad to see. At least this is how I hope things will be, after all, it is hard to imagine these creatures being driven to the point of extinction for no good reason.
And so, while we have a terrible wait on our hands, while we wish our little travelling companions well, we also hope they can learn quickly to avoid these death traps and come home to where they are loved.