Wings & Things

So I’ve never been much of a twitcher, what with all the early mornings, the endless patience demanded AND of course the necessity of sitting still and being quiet for long periods of time (sounds altogether too ‘classroom’ to me!), but birds have always held a certain fascination. It’s the flying, mainly. And all those colourful feathers. I’m just a little bit jealous, I suppose – more about that later. Anyway, I’m not the only one; ancient Mesoamericans could certainly be relied upon for reverence of a feathered friend or two. Just check out the headdress Aztec ruler Moctezuma donned back in the day. Word has it (like reliable word from the folks at Mexico’s amazing anthropology museum, where it caught the attention of my magpie-eyes) he gifted it to Cortes upon his arrival in Tenochtitlan in 1521. Downright fussy some people. Who wouldn’t have been happy with that??! I’d have been delighted. 100% pure quetzal tail plumage…the closest I ever came was a tantalising glimpse of iridescent green telltale tail as what may have been an elusive quetzal fluttered into Guatemalan jungle following an altogether to thunderous footfall from yours truly. Oh well.

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In any case, given the local veneration for these masters of aviation, I was somewhat surprised to see this fella flailing around on his altogether inadequate feet in a Hondran restaurant. Clipped wings had assigned him a forever floor-bound fate, poor thing.

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Thankfully, more fortune favoured these marvellous scarlet macaws, who are busy being reintroduced into the wild at the Mayan site of Copan Ruinas.  The Mayans idolised these creatures, who symbolised the divine. And how divine are they? !Look at these gorgeous fellas! Bold as brass in all their feathered finery, just hanging out in the sun. And not an early morning in sight – brilliant! Ever-so evocative of times gone by, these fellas filled the skies above the crumbling monuments with their screeching calls and dramatic, swooping flight. Which brings me back to jealousy.

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Despite my obvious lack of wings and crippling allergy to feathers, watching the wonder of flight made me fancy giving it a go myself, so I shrugged off a few millenia of evolution and headed for the trees…In particular, a part of the Honduran countryside dedicated to fellow human wannabe fliers. 5km of ziplines zizagging through the forest canopy – wheeeee! What fun!

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