The sun has risen in the east.
The western ibis floats on flared wings above the green and ochre flats of land near the lush delta. Her nest lies amid the verdant marshlands and her brood is snuggled within. She is a huntress on the wing soaring for insects large and small – her young need sustenance, and they are as yet helpless. Their wings are far from developed, and even their spindly legs make them ungainly.
She is not thinking of the arduousness of her task, the dangers she herself runs from aerial predators, and the exhaustion that will come over her before she finishes this day’s unending quest for food. It is in her nature to provide for her young and she does not question her nature. She is what she is, and complaining about what she is has never occurred to her.
As she catches the freshest thermals rising from the heated earth, her keen eyes behold the predation that unfolds beneath her flexing wings. The crocodile attacks the marsh fox, the fox rends the lizard, the lizard’s unfurling tongue laps up the dragonfly, the dragonfly ingests water walkers. The unfeeling ferocity of this cycle does not move her, nor does its savage ending of lives.
She knows only too well that care for her young is a concern sufficient for her, and she wastes no energy pondering what may or may not happen to the countless denizens inhabiting the teeming world so distant below her. Up here her drudgery is a kind of freedom, even if it is a momentary freedom.
She sights the nest, furls and flaps her wings, settles to a landing, her long stilt-like legs stretched out in front. Small bills reach up to the sound and scent of her, and she disgorges food into them all. She lies down in the nest and shares her heat with the small ones. The western sun casts its lengthening shadows across the living marsh.