Winged Migration

“… Perhaps someday a writer may be able to set down in an all-encompassing perception a vision of this mighty progression. What a vision it would be! What a comprehension we should have of the force and scope of life if we could really conceive of these streams of birds across the skies, of the vast river-system of the migration that has the pattern of a tree with roots in Patagonia, Peru, and Brazil, a bole of a trunk blanketing Central America and the Gulf, the branches reaching into every valley of our continent to terminate finally upon the coast of Greenland, the shores of the Arctic Ocean, and the marshes of Siberia…”

– Charlton Ogden, Jr., “The Meaning of Birds”

It’s funny — the poetic description of migration that Ogden provides elsewhere in his essay is probably one of the best I have ever read. That aside, I do agree with his point… writing about something so awesome as migration in a way that does it justice seems like an impossible task. Although most people might think of bird migration as belonging to the domain of “science,” It’s one of those things that is almost better interpreted through story, poetry and art. (I’m beginning to think that this be the case with anything abstract.) The film Winged Migration is more of a “tale” than a documentary (they raised and filmed  captive birds to make the movie) but is still one of the best and only films I’ve seen that captures the “spirit” of migration… sacred, mysterious, difficult something that “must be undertaken” (I am sure there is a German word for that)…

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