Birdies and babies...

Over in the UK, since 1954 it's been a crime to collect the eggs of ninety species of wild birds. Hypothetically, one may engage in oology as long as the subject of one's study (eggs) can be documented to have been collected before 1954. Otherwise, one's oology must be done in the wild and from a distance—through binoculars with great care taken there be no feelings of insecurity on the part of the nesting mother or father. Intimidating encroachments will be prosecuted.

The U.K.'s National Wildlife Crime Unit has been so successful with her constabularies, swat teams (no exageration), and prosecutions that oologists are resorting to collecting pictures instead of eggs. The sneaks climb trees and take pictures of the eggs, and although no one has yet been imprisoned for taking such pictures, head of the Wildlife Crime Unit, Nevin Hunter, warns his patience is growing thin. "The penalty is available," Nevin shrieks.

Speaking of shrikes...

Behind this lunacy is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Founded by women denied membership in the British Ornithologists' Union back in 1889, the RSPB's membership now stands at well over 1,000,000 and it has become the U.K.'s largest conservation organization. It is also "Scotland's largest landowner owning over one-sixth of the nation."

Which is to say, RSPB members are those with whom one ought not to trifle.

RSPB members employ many weapons to back up their kingdom's tenderness for eggs. With their wives' entire approval, grown men—pensioners, in fact—volunteer to spend the years of their dotage sitting out on the shores of Devon, keeping watch over nests of red-backed shrikes. Vigilant 24/7 with binoculars and a set of wooden paddles called "clappers," if a Magpie, say, were to stray near the nest resulting in this prized bird having feelings of insecurity, our man on the spot chest-a-thumping would pick up his paddles and clap clap clap clap clap. Not happy-clappy so much as pappy-clappy.

The entire kingdom feels great moral indignation over the terrible threat oologists present to Her Majesty's birdies.

Recently, a constable of Scotland's Northern Constabulary placed "an urgent call" to the Edinburgh (pronounced ed-en-burro, not Eden-burro, Eden-burg, or ed-in-burg) office of the Wildlife Crime Unit. It was a red alert. As The New Yorker's Rubinstein reports, "a nature-reserve warden on the Isle of Rum, twenty miles offshore, had reported seeing a man 'dancing about' in a gull colony."

This set off a chain of events, the recounting of which one might hesitate to read aloud to an eight-year-old boy. Terror. Abject terror!

First this oologist dancer-prancer was, as they say, "apprehended." Then came a search of his "rucksack" which yielded gold: a couple syringes, topographical maps, some rope; a military survival guide, and twenty eggs. Then the really scary part: an official of the Edinburgh environmental crimes unit called Metro Police in London, and "within hours, a joint special-forces team from the police and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds" were off to search our humble and unemployed oologist's flat. Eco-celebrity of the United Kingdom, Mark Thomas, then got involved. Speaking to Rubinstein, Thomas said when he got the call, “I put down the phone and literally ran to my car.”

As one of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds two senior investigators, every birder across the UK knows and loves Mr. Thomas. His office is in Sandy, an hour north of London, "on a sprawling forty-acre nature reserve. Six hundred employees work there, in buildings named for birds. The investigations office—a small open space with six desks, in the Bittern building—overlooks a manicured garden and a pond." Says Thomas, "Once, an e-mail went out to the entire staff that there was a honey buzzard outside, and within minutes four hundred people were there."

Since the UK has no equivalent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, police rely upon Thomas and his RSPB colleagues to assist them investigating and prosecuting crimes against Nature. As Rubinstein reports: "egg collecting is the only wildlife crime that warrants an ongoing nationwide police initiative, called Operation Easter. The program (launched) in 1997, has enabled the R.S.P.B. to combine decades’ worth of intelligence on egg collectors into a national police database." Police officer Alan Stewart is quite proud of his role in the creation of Operation Easter: “It’s very rare in the U.K. to have a national police operation of this kind. The others are for drug trafficking, human trafficking, and football hooliganism.”

This post ought to have served our good readers as an emetic by now. Can this nation of Wilberforces really have fallen so badly that their heroes are now egg-worshipping Barney Fifes?

Former Manchester police officer Guy Shorrock is the other man responsible for the creation of Operation Easter. A lifelong crime-fighter, he says, “With all the crimes I’ve dealt with, egg collecting is always the one that upsets the public the most."

Reporting on the terrible crime perpetrated on the Isle of Rum, The Guardian, "likened (the) crime to a third-trimester abortion," speaking of the “almost full-term chicks.”

You with me yet—ears to hear and all that?

This is our world, and I promise you many oh-so-tender women readers who think of themselves as "Christian" and have influenced a number of their little boys to ape their mothers' and wive's tenderness are now in a huff wondering what I have against little birdies and their eggs?

Well actually; nothing. I love birdies. One of my favorite pasttimes is sitting outside next to our hummingbird feeder and feeling the rush of their buzzing and darting and fighting right by my head. It's wonderful in every meaning of that much-abused word. We have one bird bath, three birdfeeders, and three or four binoculars. My computer has hundreds of pics of birds, most of them taken in Africa. I am opposed to cruelty to animals by farmers or hunters or little children (always boys, by the way, if you'll allow me this small bit of sexual stereotyping). I know that when Jonah was bitter against God for sparing Nineveh, God responded:

Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals? (Jonah 4:11)

I'm moved emotionally and spiritually by that wonderful song, "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," and it causes me to wonder at God's loving care even for birds. This care is demonstrated in the Old Testament by that law rabbis consider "the least" of all the laws of Moses:

If you happen to come upon a bird’s nest along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you shall certainly let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, in order that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days. (Deuteronomy 22:6, 7)

Yet man alone among all God's wonderful creation bears His Image and Likeness, and this is the reason Jesus stated:

Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! (Luke 12:24)

But nevermind Jesus, the Son of God; women and their men today are hell-bent on the slaughter of the fruit of man while preening themselves over their tenderness and reverence for birds' eggs!

Speaking of the citizens of the Western world, before our eyes we see that truth of Sophocles universally affirmed through the ages:

Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.

What greater madness than for the women of Wales and Scotland and the Lake District to purchase the slaughter of their own child tenderly nestling in their womb while tsk-tsking over a man "dancing about in a gull colony," then sending their husbands out to spend the dark night seaside with wooden paddles and a binocular to protect some bird's eggs which God's Word expressly permits man to do with as he wishes?

Yet all is not lost. Right above the UK, among the Finns, sanity prevails—although no thanks to those persnickety R2K men so dainty and fastidious as to withdraw from the scene with hand over mouth tsk-tsking over (horrors!) her mention in the public square of God and His Word.

Finland's Interior Minister, that good woman Päivi Räsänen, was speaking at a meeting of the Lutheran Church when she rebuked her nation:

Animal protection law grants better protection to animals than the law on abortion gives to unborn children. Animals may not be slaughtered in a painful manner, but it's not permitted to even discuss the painfulness of abortion... An abortion-age child is not a numb piece of tissue, rather an individual that can feel pain...

Speaking of the conflict between the laws of Finland and the laws of God, Räsänen said:

"We have to consider whether we have the courage to act in the face of general public opinion or norms, peer pressure, and sometimes even the law, if these contradict the word of God.

Räsänen finnished her statement with that Apostolic declaration:

We must obey God rather than man.

Somewhere, Chesterton makes the observation that almost every teaching of Jesus was an a fortiori argument. In other words, "If this, then how much more..."

Reading his words, it became apparent to me that every word of the modern Christian leader is precisely opposite to Jesus' method. We have traded in a fortiori for a leviori, "how much less."

For instance, we turn the story of the Waiting Father on its head, bypassing the great love of the Father in order to stoop to wagging our finger at the Older Brother; and in the process, drawing quite a bit of attention to our own love for the lost in splendid (or really, awful) relief against the backdrop of that inestimably little man, the Elder Brother, who was a mere-brushstroke in Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son.

Pathetic.

So now, what better example could there be of our bondage to "how much less" than the rejection of Jesus' words about the sparrows:

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? (Matthew 6:26)

To which our Western world responds, "No, our little babies are not worth much more than they. They're worth much, much, much, less. In fact, they're worthless. Aggressors, actually, and worthy of death."

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind... (Romans 1:21-28)

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(Details of the Brits war on Oologists from Julian Rubinstein's, "A Reporter at Large: Operation Easter: The hunt for illegal egg collectors," in The New Yorker, July 22, 2013. Likely only subscribers will be able to log in.)

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

Dear Tim,

By my calculations the RSPB only owns 0.6% of Scotland (124,000 acres out of 19.5 million acres).

Still nothing to shake a stick at.

Dear Dan,

I've put it in quote marks, now, as I ought to have before. Anyhow, The New Yorker takes its fact-checking quite seriously, so either they issue a correction or you're wrong. My guess is they won't issue a correction. Please let us know if they do, OK?

Love,

There's a world of difference between .6% and 1/6th. But that article is old (2008), Daniel. I can't find anything really recent, but as of this article in 2010, it had way more than doubled to 321,237 acres, which puts it at 1.6%. As the article you quoted states, it's growing fast.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if the crown gave it some huge amount of land since then. Who knows.

Meanwhile, "protected areas cover 2,607,131 km2 (1,006,619 sq mi), or 27.08 percent of the land area of the United States." See here

-Joseph

Great post. Thanks!

You're right, it was an old article, and their holdings have been growing quickly recently. Thanks, Joseph.

Love,

Well-done, Tim. 

Thinking of the antics of the RSPB, when compared with the utterly critical issue of abortion: "strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" comes to mind.

Finland is like Scandinavia, fairly riddled with feminism, but there may be hope for it yet (the overall abortion rate is half that of Sweden - still far too high, of course, but worth noting).

Is it too horrible if I note that the whole apparatus for protecting rare birds reminds me of the "Bookshop Sketch" from Monty Python?

Except it's not that gannet that wets its nests, it's us.  Sigh.

Not to take away fom the horror of it, but I prefer Twitcher to oologist. While a twitcher is concerned about more than just the eggs, oologist makes it sound too respectable. 

I am reminded of the extra-governmental agency, "N.I.C.E.", in C.S. Lewis' book That Hideous Strength.

They do have a N.I.C.E. in reality, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, among other duties, offers guidelines for instituting the infamous Liverpool Care Pathway.

"1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil."

Romans 13. 

Bob, if you think that something has been said that contradicts Romans 13:1-3 please speak plainly. I'm willing to engage with you, but not to guess at your arguments and points. Please do the work. Make an argument.

Love,

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