Observing animals and learning not only about but also from them and finally interacting with one another is what we love most in diving. However, our passion for nature doesn’t end underwater. For starters, we present you with our personal view on the teachings of a Lesser Antillean Bullfinch (Loxigilla noctis).
Some days ago the last of the Lesser Antillean Bullfinches left the nest on our veranda. For almost half a day he was sitting on top of the twig, taking food off the beaks of his parents, but not taking the leap into the unknown. After watching and chirping his little one on from the railing the father flew eventually over to sit next to him. When the little finch hopped on the back of its daddy he took off pushing the young one up into the air where he finally spread his wings.
Unfortunately, little finchy flew straight into our kitchen where it crashed into the wall. The day before another Finch was practising flying under the high ceiling for hours. Instead of hopping onto higher ground and giving it another try, this one was hiding in the corner behind the bread machine. Clearly, it didn’t trust its wings or the whole concept of growing up very much. While Yoeri thought it was physically too weak, I suspected a mental blockage after the bad performance in front of spectators.
The more his father chirped and hopped, the less willing the little one looked. Understandingly I gave them some space and when we left for a stroll on the beach, it was all quiet in the kitchen. As soon as Yoeri opened the door on our return the father rushed past us searching the house frantically until there was a light chirp back. Taking his sweet time the lost son finally reappeared from underneath our shopping bags. Maybe to prove his point and at the same time silence his father, he made some feeble attempts, more hopping than flying.
In the end, Yoeri offered a hand and carried the small Bullfinch back to the nest. After one more night in his safe and sound environment, the young bird finally spread his wings and took off into the garden. Maybe his dad helped him again, maybe it took a couple of more attempts. As we were out diving, I have no idea. In any case, now we are living together happily with many Lesser Antillean Bullfinches around the house. As they were messing up our freshly planted seeds, we actually called them Bullshit Finches. We still do, but lovingly, while putting out bread crumbs and fruits to save our plants.
Apparently, it is a myth that birds abandon their chicks after a human touched them as most of them are as devoted to their offspring as the Bullshit Finch. In general, birds don’t have a good sense of smell. Don’t take a baby bird away from the area of its nest though. Usually, the parents are not far off and maybe all it needs is another comfy night to truly believe in itself.
In behavioural biology, it is often said we shouldn’t project human traits onto animals. But maybe certain traits are simply more universal than we think. Most likely, we think too much anyway, especially of ourselves and our species. After all, we are the ones responsible for tipping the balance within ecosystems and messing up living together for all of us on this planet. Clearly, no other species would choose to name us „wise“ or „knowable“ (Homo sapiens) …
Taxonomy of the Lesser Antillean Bullfinch
Species: Loxigilla noctis
Read more about the Lesser Antillean Bullfinch here.