B is for Birds That Wake Us

02 Apr

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 4.24.35 PMWe 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.

IMG_0654I 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.

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10 responses to “B is for Birds That Wake Us

  1. kristinkingauthor

    April 3, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Oh, and here is a link to the orchestra you mentioned–

  2. kristinkingauthor

    April 3, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Oh my!

  3. kristinkingauthor

    April 3, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Yes, the laughter and talk was from the roof of the abandoned house next door, where people congregated to wash clothes in Lake Kivu and hang them to drive on the rebar sticking out of the roof.

  4. kristinkingauthor

    April 3, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Yes, you probably saw the documentary or maybe the 60 minutes special. My experience is almost 900 miles from the capital city of Kinshasa–deeper into the heart of Africa. But we have our very own music man who is very talented and hopes that someday we will have more instruments. He teaches the children and other young people with what we have. Someday we hope to have a music room at our educational center. More hopes for the future.

  5. kristinkingauthor

    April 3, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Thank you! I really appreciate your note on the writing. I’m still one of those insecure writers at heart.

  6. mbhmaine

    April 3, 2015 at 12:33 am

    I will definitely be dropping by regularly to read your posts throughout this challenge. I love the way you write about your experiences in Africa. Love the transition: What the screen won’t contain is the birdsong, bright and strong to wake us. I laughed at your comment about the crow with a wife-beater’s t-shirt.

  7. natalie

    April 2, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    Doesn’t the Congo have its own orchestra? I saw a television program which featured an amazing man who started this orchestra from nothing and now has participants from everywhere who learn to play instruments, are given lessons in operatic singing. It is amazing.

  8. Dee Connell

    April 2, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    I loved reading this post and the last. It reminds me of when I was in Ghana. Even with the screens on the windows, we woke up with mosquito bites. Birds chirping, neighbors laughing, cows roaming outside.,.There was no choice but to wake up at dawn.

  9. Rosie Amber

    April 2, 2015 at 7:49 am

    In the summer when my window is open I have a robin as my dawn chorus.

  10. Susan Scott

    April 2, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Loved this post thanks Kristin. Bird song/call is usually delightful waking us to a new day. We have the African Ibis on the highveld here in South Africa that has the loudest screech you could imagine.


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