Animals have always inspired man. We are familiar with the timeless lessons of teamwork the ants and bees have taught us. Consider the bravery of lions, the compassion of dolphins and the loyalty of dogs that motivate us to this day.
This time, the Rock Firefinch, Jos Plateau Indigobird and the Ibadan Malimbe, three small birds found nowhere else on earth, teach us some important lessons of life from their habitats in two different parts of Nigeria.
Parenting is Not Just for Mothers
The Rock Firefinch is a small bird with a blue-grey bill found only around The Jos Plateau. It is interesting that both sexes of the bird partake in incubating the eggs the female lays. Some researchers in one study observed a male take over incubation at 6:30 a.m. from its female partner who incubated all through the night. At 8:30 a.m., the female came back from foraging for food and replaced the male. By 11:30 a.m., the male returned and took over parenting duties.
Fathers can help make the drudgery that comes with motherhood more bearable and even fun. They can emulate the male Rock Firefinch and perform some tasks most of us assume to be exclusive to women.
Mothers Have an Irreplaceable Role to Play in Parenting
Even though both sexes of the Rock Firefinch share incubation, it is only the female who incubates all through the night. The female has a visible brood patch and researchers suggest that the brood patch helps for better heat transfer to the eggs during the cold nights.
Someone commented on an online article titled “Fathers aren’t Mothers,” and said that his wife’s breasts swell and ache any time she hears a baby—any baby at all—cry. In a number of ways women and men are wired differently. The female Rock Firefinch reminds us that by virtue of physiology, mothers will always play a distinct role in child rearing, no matter the sex of the child.
Women Work Harder Than Men
The female Rock Firefinch doesn’t just conceive, lay eggs and incubate those eggs for longer hours. It also forages for food like the male and helps build the nest as well.
Today’s woman has to juggle career, parenting and the pursuit of personal dreams. This has made multitasking inevitable for most women. A recent study published in the American Sociological Review revealed that working mothers multitask for nearly half the time they are awake, putting in 48.3 hours of multitasking per week compared to 38.9 hours put in by men.
Kindness Can Have a Painful Price
The Rock Firefinch has a brood parasite in another bird exclusive to Nigeria: The Jos Plateau Indigobird. The latter lays its eggs in the nest of the Rock Firefinch and leaves the job of parenting to it.
And this comes with a curse. Researchers found in one study that the chicks of the Jos Plateau Indigobird developed faster and better than the real children of the house—the Rock Firefinch chicks. In some cases, the Indigobird eggs would hatch while the Rock Firefinch eggs would fail to hatch.
It is a noble thing to give a lifeline to less privileged kids by adopting them. But blinded by pity and altruism, some parents can unintentionally treat their foster kids better than those from their womb.
And the tables could turn. Ever heard of less privileged kids who became successful adults and then abandoned their guardians to the terrible clutches of loneliness, ill-health or poverty?
When in Rome, Act Like a Roman
The chick of the Jos Plateau Indigobird enjoys the care of its host because it learns to mimic the latter’s vocalizations. And so, food, warmth and protection are provided until it becomes capable of flight and strikes out on his own.
To survive in this harsh, competitive world, we must adapt to our surroundings. One way to do this is to understand the culture and character of the environment we find ourselves, then integrate. In doing this, we can end up becoming better off than those who brag about being ‘sons of the soil’.
But there is a double lesson in the mimicry of the Jos Plateau Indigobird. The flip side is that we should…
Beware of Impostors and Fraudsters
You know them. Bleating wolves with innocent, ever-radiant faces that convince you that your trust shouldn’t be held back. Sweet-talking people who will feed your ears with their pathetic stories and finally vanish when they have acquired all they planned to get from the very beginning.
Don’t base your beliefs solely on what you hear. Read. Observe. Think. What we hear might ring true but then, to detect fraud, we just might need to open our eyes and look deeper; engage our minds and think clearly.
Toughen Your Outsides. Be Warm On the Inside
Be like the nest of the Rock Firefinch. Its exterior is made of rough grass while the interior is crafted with fine grass. Developing a thick skin is necessary to absorb the shock that comes with the world celebrating us today then suddenly raining condemnation tomorrow. But as we develop that thick skin, we can’t afford to lose touch with our humanity. We shouldn’t fail to show warmth to those that draw near to us. Surrounding our family and true friends with the fine grass of comfort is necessary because in the end, they are the ones who fight with us against the battleships from the world.
Don’t Be a Rolling Stone
The Rock Firefinch rarely leaves its locale. By staying in one area, it becomes more acquainted with it. This allows it find food that might have been difficult to locate. When you spend more time sharpening your skills and acquainting yourself with everything within the four walls of your trade, you find that those tasks that seemed very difficult before, become easier to tackle.
Don’t Give Up on Your Homeland
Another lesson we can learn from the high site fidelity of the Rock Firefinch is that we don’t have to leave Nigeria to flourish. God has provided everything we need for our success right here in this country. Sure, it can be difficult to see this with the troubles that plague Nigeria. Still, hard work fuelled by hope and guided by wisdom can put any citizen of this country on a path to achieving his or her dreams. We can’t give up on our homeland. Let’s stay put, brainstorm and find solutions to our problems together.
Exploit Your Natural Abilities
The relatively long and slender bill of the Rock Firefinch helps it pick up seeds buried between sand and vegetation in its habitat. You might have fast legs, hands of music, or a sharp mind. Maybe your tongue wags witty. An infectious smile that wipes tears? Eyes that can tell if a person is lying? Whatever your long and slender bill is, use it to find nourishment for your body and soul.
Be Sociable but Not Gossipy
The Ibadan Malimbe, a small black-and-red weaver found only in south-western Nigeria, has no problem rolling with birds of other kinds. It has been sited in bird parties with the Red-headed Malimbe, Blue-billed Malimbe, the Yellow-mantled Weaver and the Fork-tailed Drongo. One thing though: Ibadan Malimbes don’t engage in idle chatter. In a certain noisy party held in Moniya, Ibadan, it was observed that the Ibadan Malimbes who attended, went about quietly as they helped themselves to some of the delicacies around like insects and larvae.
The Ibadan Malimbe’s sociability allows it to share the burden of building its nests and taking care of its young with other bird species. However, this bird teaches us that we have to avoid becoming busybodies even as we try to reap the rewards of being sociable.
Watch Out For Aggressors on Your Social Network
Facebook. Whatsapp. Clubs. Church groups. The workplace. Where we live. Wherever or whatever the circle, it is a good thing to be cautious. Even if we mind our business while being sociable, it doesn’t mean we become automatically shielded from harassment. Look out for bullies and arm yourself against them. The small but scarily black and fierce Fork-tailed Drongo has been known to take over the nest of the Ibadan Malimbe then chase it away when the latter tries to reclaim what it laboured to build.
And to think that the drongos are sometimes neighbours who nest on the same tree with the Ibadan Malimbes and party with them. But then, it is possible that the ingenious and beautiful retort-shaped nest the Ibadan Malimbe weaves, makes the Fork-tailed Drongo mad with envy.
Whatever the case, this still inspires a bonus lesson of life: We should choose our social networks wisely. Also, we have to be careful what we show off on the internet, workplace, community and any other social sphere. Sometimes, all it takes to invite serious trouble is to display our precious possessions and achievements to the envious eyes of the world.
Photo Credit: varcity.co.ke
Samuel Okopi has a Masters degree in Architecture from A.B.U, Zaria. He loves poetry and engages with architecture, nature and culture on his website www.samuelokopi.com wh