Continued from page 1
A sinister development occurred in summer of 1976 when previously easygoing insect fraternity became involved in birds' campaign in mainland Britain. The flying insect lobby organised suicide missions, aiming (and maiming) themselves at car windscreens. Readers may remember seeing picketing by thousands of ladybirds during that notable hot summer, especially at seaside resorts, where Seabird Federation was still in its infancy...
Cuckoos have been getting themselves a bad name in bird union circles for many years. And it appears to be thoroughly well deserved by all accounts. Cuckoos, pariahs of bird community, have been closely associated in many bird brains, with human British Horological Institute, where they signed a deal to accept free indoor housing in exchange for agreeing to tell time for their landlords every hour on hour. Mainstream bird groups saw this as "selling out" and banned cuckoos from membership of several important bird institutions. Normally mild-mannered blackbirds started what became known as "Every hour on hour" campaign, which aimed to throw a cuckoo's egg out of a nest every hour of day. This was an extension of backlash against cuckoos which had originally begun in 1831 with advent of campaign against Cuckoo Squatters Movement. The CSM itself had begun as a protest movement after cuckoos had been refused free crèche facilities by pigeons. This was unfair treatment against cuckoos, but few remember details nowadays; cuckoos were effectively sidelined from that day on, and situation - and with it, cuckoos' reputation - has spiralled out of control ever since.
As a result of their previous unfair treatment by other birds, cuckoos have, since 2001, opted for devolution, allowing them to set their own agenda. Hopefully this will result in productive high-level talks which should eventually see an end to strike-breaking activities of cuckoos which has got them into even more trouble in more recent years.
But not all birds are members of unions. Mallard ducks, who make up a large proportion of waterborne Home Guard militia, have vowed never to jeopardise security of our inland waterways by opting for right to form unions and thus for possibility of strike action. They have instead accepted a ten year pay and conditions package giving them sole rights on or within fifty metres of any body or stretch of water in United Kingdom and any of its dependent territories. It is a little known fact that swans are part of Home Guard and may therefore class themselves as honorary ducks.
And that leaves us firstly with swallows, swifts and other summer visitors from warmer climes. As these are not strictly speaking domestic birds they are not subject to same rules as other birds, although international conventions do nevertheless apply.
And finally with budgerigars, canaries and rest of our overcrowded prison population. Their case is complicated. On one hand some have been freed by NDBLA pigeons. But others are not convinced by plight of budgies. As one cuckoo said, preferring to remain anonymous:
"They may be in long-term confinement, but they've all got colour TV's. And that's something a lot of us wouldn't mind swapping places for . . ."
Article writer, baking enthusiast, chaos magician, self-styled 'darkside philosopher' and joint owner of http://www.darchangels.com