June 21st, 2014 – Tiputini Biological Reserve
In order to obtain the best view of the many brilliant bird specimens around us, we abandoned the traditional “enhanced vision” tool opting out for the all-encompassing ecologist’s ornithological ace-in-the-hole: mist nets. The emergent rays of solar radiation streak across the sky as we fumble through the forest in our intoxicated states of mind. We sheepishly attempt to rub the sleep from our eyes in preparation for our close encounter with the organisms we have – up to this point in time – only viewed from afar.
It was 6:15am when we had positioned the nets to capture the winged spectacles. It had become just a matter of waiting for the birds to come to us. About 45 minutes of idle time passed by before we checked the nets. In our search for feathered treasure, we discovered four species of bird that we could now manipulate with our arsenal of biological measurement tools.
But the most exhilarating part had to be the revered act of holding a bird within your very hands. When the bird is about to be passed into your hands, the first thing you notice is its size. The tiny body frame of the bird relative to the size to your hands communicates the message of caution. Precautions for the retention of the life you cradle in your hands must be put in place. The instant the bird makes the transition from the instructor’s hands to your hands you enter an unspoken bond with the tiny life you now hold. You feel the life pulsating through your fingertips, warmth radiating outwards and fear exponentially emerging from the avian organism. It is both a terrifying and momentous occasion because you have such a delicate life form held tightly within your grasp.
One false move could end the life you have been charged with protecting. A violation of nature. You feel out of place holding a piece of the rainforest that should never be held in such a manner. A disgrace to its elegance. You stand awkwardly and try to enjoy the moment. Observe the beauty. Once your time has expired, you feel a pang of relief surface throughout your body because the burden of responsibility has been removed from you. But you wish for more time because you never had that much control over the life of a tropical mystery.
Watching the bird fly out of human hands and back into the world from whence it came feels relieving. The bird can fly freely now, just as nature intended. The rainforest welcomes back its inhabitant. To the rainforest nothing has changed, but you know that is not the case as you stare into the depths of the jungle wondering where it could have gone. You stand there contemplating this instant, feeling forever changed by this experience.
The next few pictures are just of each of us holding a bird. Proof of our times here.
And last but not least!!!