Taken captive by birds

Taken Captive by Birds is a collection of Marguerite Poland’s discovery of birds in young years and the role they have played in her life.
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Title: Taken captive by birds
Author: Marguerite Poland, Craig Ivor van Vuuren
Genre: Ornitology, Art
Publisher: The Penguin Group (South Africa)
Cape Town, South Africa 2012
ISBN 9780143530442 / ISBN 978-0-14-353044-2
Hardcover, 19 x 23 cm, 143 pages, throughout illustrations


Being taken captive by birds means to enter an awareness of another sphere; to apprehend more fully those melodious hidden places of the jiza bird, observed yet mythopoeic; to hear minutely the quiet rustling in the undergrowth, the popping notes of bou bous, the little gong of the tinker barbet's anvil, never seen but somewhere in the dappled shade of summer days. To know the trickle of the oriole, the hollow bubbling of the coucal. Even if I do not know the scientific names of the birds I love, I know their mythologies, the skein that weaves them to the human world: the sorrow of birds, their cruelties and their tenderness, their triumphs and caprices, their artistry. I have no sentiment about them in the sense of wanting ownership. I could not bear to keep a bird in a cage. The closest to ownership that I could come is to covet the reassembled skeletons in the store of the museum where I once worked: something in the engineering of those stark, fragile sculptures, their foxed, handwritten labels, a sense of the rigour, or the cunning, of the long-gone collector, the taxidermist's skill. More than skeletons, I love birds' eggs. I remember a collection of them in an old storeroom on a farm, laid out in rows, in families, in species: from the smallest, frail as a soap bubble, to the heavy, creamy globes of ostrich eggs. I loved best the soft blue and pewterikkops crying on the lawn at dusk. To hear them and the ribbon of sound, pi-pi-pi-pi-pi, weaving through the darkness, is to be transposed to the long white-walled bungalow, the paraffin lamps lit at evening, the silhouette of trees against a sky the colour of isipingo berries, mauve and pewter grey. Interwoven with the personal story are the myths, traditions and meanings behind birds and their names within Zulu and Xhosa culture. Beautifully illustrated, Taken captive by birds is divided into 18 chapters, each of which loosely deals with one particular bird or, sometimes, a grouping of birds.

Contents: Taken captive by birds

Robin And Thrush
Hoopoes And Drongos
Paradise Flycatcher
Bee Eaters
Game Birds
Jiza Birds