A bird in flight is beautiful, especially when seen in slow motion. I think that is because the body moves exactly as it was designed to.
The twisted tips of the flapping wings propel the bird forward and keep it airborne. The bird knows instinctively how to make use of the buoyance and propulsion generated by its well-developed pectoral muscles.
"Toki" (Japanese crested ibis) chicks, hatched in the wild on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture, are learning to fly. Their early morning "flight training" sessions remind me of small children rubbing their still-sleepy eyes in the morning as they learn to ride a bicycle.
The chicks are still clumsy, but they are already beginning to resemble the old documentary footage of adult birds. Seeing them flap their pink wings and glide, I sense the hand of their creator who would not allow the species to go extinct.
This is said to be the first time in 38 years that toki chicks born in the wild in Japan have flown the nest. Having left the cedar forest where they were born, they now perch on rooftops of homes to survey their surroundings and forage for food in fallow rice paddies with their parents. Their every move becomes national news.
An Environment Ministry official who is in charge of the project noted that everything has gone so well that it makes him a bit nervous. The more the young birds' world expands, the more trials they will have to undergo.
They are expected to become fully self-sufficient before the year-end. However, records in China show that half the birds die within one year of leaving the nest. Toki watchers have every reason to fear for the birds' safety.
Eight chicks have already hatched from parent birds released from captivity. I hope the species will no longer become extinct in the wild. I wish the late Takaji Takano and others who pioneered the protection of toki could have seen the maiden flights of the young birds on Sado Island.
Perhaps they are seeing the ibises now. The birds are repaying them for their efforts by taking to the sky. The flapping of their young wings must be their message of gratitude that will surely reach their benefactors in heaven.
From cages to the open fields, and from birds born in captivity to their offspring born in the wild, a long journey of perpetuation of life has begun on lively pink wings.
--The Asahi Shimbun, June 3
* * *
Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
- « Prev
- Next »