We sleep in a guest room on solid wooden bunk beds, my niece and I. The need for the cooler night air circulating overrides the fear of mosquitos who might carry malaria or Dengue fever among other diseases. Of course the window has an intact screen to keep most of the bugs out.
What the screen won’t contain is the birdsong, bright and strong to wake us. At first I smile at the unfamiliar chorus of calls. Then I see that I’m supposed to have another hour+ before I rise.
As if they know what I want and think no one should sleep past 5:30, they become louder. Have they turned their heads to face the window? They are joined by what must be a Great Dane-sized bird who would serve very well at the local fire station to signal emergencies. Closing the window stifles them just enough, and I roll back over before the heat wakes me again.
During the day I’m delighted by the various birds, some similar enough that I think I can identify their bird family, but different enough in plumage that I’m not quite sure. That one looks to be the cousin of the robin red breast, except this guy’s beak is 3 inches long. The squawky one is built like a blue jay with a Batman mask and shades of gray coloring as if he is a black-and-white photograph of his American kin.
I discover though, it’s the smallest birds that are the loudest. I search the branches of high-five palm trees and two-story flower bushes for these little guys. Is that a mouse-tit I see? Some kind of finch? I love for my large camera with the zoom lens. The next time I will bring my heaviest, best photographic equipment. I will make a “Birds of Bukavu” book, I think. I wish. My soul-sister, Bintu, keeps me so busy this trip even though it’s Christmas and New Year’s holidays, I know the time will get away from me when I come again.
But I will come again. How can I not?
The most easily recognizable bird is the raven, same as the ones I’ve moved away from in Maryland, same strong profile, same dark sleek feathers…except…this one appears to wear a wife-beater T-shirt.
What do I know?
Maybe that’s what this Baltimore Raven is wearing under his jersey too.
Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.