Bird’s Eye View




Watching films and bird- watching are both voyeuristic inclinations. Each offers pleasure by passive engagement, where the seeker has to do little to provoke the subject under observation, where she or he is looking outward for edification and entertainment.
But the similarities between birding and watching films dwindle when the lights are dimmed, and the projector goes into a whirring gear. For a birder it can be stifling to be caged in a dark cube, Insulation from the outside is immediately manifested in the affected murmurs and padded footsteps that humans are reduced to inside a theatre.
An imposed shush drops a veil on the crowd, and one becomes merely an insignificant part of an audience
shrouded by someone else’s imagination.
Compared to this, birders are habituated to fresh air, healthy environs and natural light. Sometimes, birding demands long hikes through varied terrain, necks craned out looking for a flurry of colour, or ears perked to catch a whistle of a bird to its mate. On other instances, you could be required to spend long hours in one position, or travel very long distances just for one glimpse of an elusive species.


Birders do not have the privilege of scheduled screenings. If you miss the perfect dive of the delicate oriental dwarf kingfisher, you cannot plan for an evening show of its maneuvering act. This pastime demands deep study of species, climate, behaviour and other minutiae to ensure that you are doing the right thing and making the most of a precious moment of time. It guarantees an exposure to different regions, topography, weather systems and bird behaviour, all of which adds to the experience of aesthetic admiration of the feathered creature.
For those accustomed to put in all this effort, the vast panorama of national and international cinema readily on offer at IFFI 2019 is an endearing treat. It offers the chance of a relaxed extravaganza, a pause from the sweet-and-sweat combine that birding demands.


Illustration by Oriana Fernandez. You can follow her work on

Read more from The Peacock: Issue 8 (2019) here: