Why The British Love Birds?
You know that feeling of dread when a news report informs us that another bird species has experienced dramatically falling numbers; a world without birds would be a very sad place. Birds are strongly featured in my forthcoming book ‘My Pagan Ancestor Zuri’. It is really interesting to consider the relationship Zuri had with our feathered friends in 2200BC; were they food or flying creatures possessing the spirits of the ancestors? Consequently, is there something in our prehistory that explains why the British love birds.
Archaeology tells us little about birds as their bones, being cellular and light, do not survive the millenia. Nothing survives in art from prehistory to suggest that birds were venerated in any way. Yet here we are, the foremost people in the world for protecting birds. No other country has an organisation to rival the RSPB and most people feed their garden birds with fervour. It is as if something abides in our genes to see birds as companions in the living world.
Zuri loved the marsh, and wetlands were a veritable larder in prehistory. The wealth of plants, birds eggs, fish and amphibians were available for much of the year. As these foods diminished with the approach of winter, other food flew in; geese and wildfowl. Did Zuri snare these birds? The fat in a goose must have been a real treat in the hard times. But did she eat all birds or just certain ones? Were the various species of birds given status?
The Eagle has Landed
I contend that sky towers were the routine means of disposing of our bodies in prehistory. Consequently, birds that consume flesh would have possessed a spiritual dimension. Zuri can eat geese, ducks and wildfowl because they would not have eaten at the sky towers; they do not consume the spirits of people. The ravens, kites, gulls and even those cute little blue tits recycle our fats and proteins, which in her ignorance, she called spirits. The magesterial sea eagle was first to the table with a purpose designed cutting beak to open the corpse to all other birds. That’s why the eagle is venerated. The British love birds because we fed them in more ways than one.