The mirror cracks
loud enough for wrists
to bleed; “only one of us
must remain ugly,”
Velvet-Fronted Nuthatches seem like angry birds. I have seen them enact 1950s gangster movie scenes with flycatchers and minivets. I can’t speak their language but it seemed as though the nuthatches had started most of the fights.
They also appear to be frowning all the time.
While in the company of Velvet-Fronted Nuthatches though, I have learnt about containing my own anger.
These beautiful paper cup-sized birds, robed in violet-blue, move quicker than hiccups. I used to get frustrated because of how difficult it was to photograph them. Over time it occurred to me that I just needed to make sure they weren’t in an angry mood. So I figured the sort of trees that were likely to host more grubs. And I would wait until a flock of nuthatches go grubbing on a single one.
In large numbers and with food in abundance, they seemed calmer. Slower in movement too. Suddenly, they weren’t so difficult to photograph. And I wasn’t angry in their midst anymore.
It then occurred to me that I had ignored the reasons behind these temper tantrums of theirs. Even if Velvet-Fronted Nuthatches get angrier than the average bird, it wouldn’t be without purpose.
They could have been fighting for territorial rights. Trying to appear belligerent to ward off predators. Or just being intense about finding delectable grubs inside the barks of trees.
Anger after all can be a terrible thing to waste. Too precious to be tucked away without dignity; too intense to be spilled forth in haste. But it needn’t be a monster with curse words for racing shoes and clenched fists for concupiscence.
It can be a channel for creativity or a cause to find new ways to connect with the world.
(Photographs – Kodaikanal / Thekkady)