Horton is a game fellow, who meets Mayzie, a bird who thinks she needs a vacation. What happens next always made me smile (the words are all Dr Seuss’):
Then Horton, the Elephant, passed by her tree.
“Hello!” called the lazy bird, smiling her best,
“You’ve nothing to do and I do need a rest.
Would you like to sit on the egg in my nest?”
Horton worries that he is too big and heavy for the job:
The elephant laughed.
“Why, of all silly things!
I haven’t feathers and I haven’t wings.
Me on your egg? Why, that doesn’t make sense…
Your egg is so small, ma’am, and I’m so immense!”
But Mayzie persuades him, and he “gentle and kind” agrees:
“H-m-m-m..the first thing to do,” murmured Horton,
The first thing to do is to prop up this tree
And make it much stronger. That has to be done
Before I get on it. I must weigh a ton.”
Gently he crept
Up the trunk to the nest where the little egg slept.
Then Horton the elephant smiled. “Now that’s that…”
I’m sure the weaver birds that created these nests had no thought of Horton, but they were thinking of eggs. Their and their community’s. The males strip every bit of vegetation around, trying to woo the females into setting up home. If that nest doesn’t work for her – they either create or find another. I’ve watched them in my father’s garden – desperately trying to get it right. Often ending up alone until next mating season.
These photos were taken in the Kalahari – a desert that almost spans South Africa. The photographer Dillon Marsh says: “In the vast barren landscapes of the southern Kalahari, Sociable Weaver Birds assume ownership of the telephone poles that cut across their habitat.Their burgeoning nests are at once inertly statuesque and teeming with life. The twigs and grass collected to build these nests combine to give strangely recognisable personalities to the otherwise inanimate poles.”
I think Horton (and Dr Seuss) would have loved them.
(images copyright Dillon Marsh, for more information, find his website here)