A hierarchy of birds

As I sat in my van, with the roof up and the side door open, in a pretty woodland car park, enjoying an excellent Aeropress coffee, a pigeon fluttered in and out of view, and I thought “Oh, it’s just a pigeon”

Not only do we separate ourselves from the wonders around us by labelling and categorising them, but we also place them in hierarchies. Pretty, prettier; unusual, more unusual; good, better, best. All the bloody time.

It’s wearying.

9 thoughts on “A hierarchy of birds

  1. I am experiencing van envy! That aside, is it the label or the act of labelling that is at issue here? Or perhaps both on occasions? Labelling can, though, bring pleasure as with “excellent Aeropress coffee.”


    1. Interesting. Was my use of the label a means of conveying something about the experience to others who weren’t there or was it getting in the way of my own experience of the coffee… hmm…


      1. I’d say yes to the first; and I’d say I have no idea about your second point. Only you know that, perhaps! I think labels come as an integral part of language use. How we use them, is a whole other question! But are we now so bombarded by marketing and promotion in our late capitalist world that we have ceased to notice how often we use the brand names for things rather than the names of things themselves?


      2. I see it’s got an entry in Wikipedia. What has the world come to? On the other hand, coffee aficionados amongst your readership will be nodding approvingly!


  2. Perhaps, just spitballin here, it is not about the label or even the hierarchy, maybe it is the modifiers. A mere human product, coffee, is “excellent” but the pigeon, the result of a few million years of selection for the most fitting characteristics, is “just”.

    Our ordinary birds include the friendly (come in the house regularly) aerobatic Piwakwaka, the insanely clever Tui able to fly at full speed through the tree foliage and its equally mad self-mocking song, and the Kereru, a pigeon who could never, in a zillion years, be called “just”, although “majestic” probably covers it. The Pukekos, however, who attack my corn plants and tear open the melons, I am at war with them, and they are unmodifed assholes.


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