Some Words on the Birds

October 10, 2022

Emily Rogers, C Watch, Kenyon College

C Watch prepares to go swimming in a 4467 meter deep pool.

C Watch prepares to go swimming in a 4467 meter deep pool.

Ship's Log

Noon Position
16 degrees, 47.9 minutes North, 124 degrees, 07.2 minutes West

Ship Heading 
175°

Wind, Weather and Sail Plan
Cumulous cloud cover, wind East x North

Description of Location
About 1,000 miles southwest of San Diego

Souls on Board

All blogs from S-305

I didn't realize there would be birds out here. Miles and miles away from shore in the Pacific I thought the only life I'd see would be the other people on this boat, and the underwater creatures we catch for science. To my surprise, even though we are over 1000 nautical miles, several days and nights from the nearest land, there are birds flying around our heads.

Aren't they tired? There are zero trees to perch on, no structures suitable for a nest to sleep in. The albatross is one bird species out here, and they've evolved to survive without land for most of their life. They only return to land to reproduce, and otherwise they fly above the sea, swooping down to catch fish. Albatross barely have to flap their wings because they're designed to soar. Apparently, albatross are able to sleep by shutting off half their brain while still soaring.

I saw another bird yesterday, one that hasn't evolved like the albatross and therefore does not belong anywhere near here. It was a small yellow and tan finch.

The finch probably got blown out to sea by strong winds and spotted our ship as a place to rest. I cried when I heard about this. Birds are precious to me and thinking about the several days the finch was out over the ocean with no food or water was awful. Additionally, there is zero chance the small bird could fly back home from here. The inevitability of this bird's death brought me to tears. I was still crying when I saw it. A group of four people surrounded the finch as it hopped around on deck and flew in short circles. It landed on my ear and I could feel its little bird feet cling to me. It ate some watermelon and muffin crumbs. A good meal for a finch, and tragically, probably its last. I haven't seen the finch since then, and I can assume that it's gone.

I feel extra sad about the finch because birds make me think of my family. My mom's face will light up when a hummingbird drinks the sugar water she puts outside every day. My dad once witnessed a goose get hit by a car on our street and he buried it in our backyard because he wanted to give it a respectable funeral. My parents care about birds, and I miss them. The isolation from family is the hardest thing about this experience. To my family, I love you and I can't wait to tell you all about it when I get home.

Emily Rogers, C Watch, Kenyon College

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5 Comments

  1. Stephen Held October 12, 2022 at 13:30 - Reply

    What a beautiful and touching story, Emily Rogers. The finch clinging to your ear, family. This journey for my daughter and all of you will surely leave lasting moments in the lives of your memories.
    All the best in every day,

  2. Michelle Rogers October 12, 2022 at 16:09 - Reply

    I love you too Emily! I was so happy to read your words!

  3. Anonymous October 12, 2022 at 21:00 - Reply

    What a lucky finch to find your ship of loving souls.

  4. Tom Jackson October 13, 2022 at 04:52 - Reply

    Who knows, perhaps the finch caught a ride on another ship where the crew gave it some watermelon and muffin crumbs too… The following article might give you some hope…

    Take care, and say hello to Nora Jackson from me.

    Thanks!

    Tom

    Darwin’s Finches On the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean, there are a variety of different finches, which vary in the shape and size of their beaks. It is believed that a few seed-eating finches were blown from South America to the Galapagos Islands many years ago. The distance between the islands meant that the finches on different islands could not fly between them, so the populations on the different islands gradually evolved to suit their new habitats. The food available on the different islands varied and the finches had to evolve beaks which could take advantage of the food supplies available to them. These birds, although nearly identical in all other ways to mainland finches, evolved different beaks. Their beaks adapted to the type of food that they ate. Different finch populations evolved to eat different food sources. Some finches on some islands evolved thin, sharp beaks that helped them to eat insects and the blood other larger animals; on other islands, finches evolved large, sturdy beaks ideally adapted to eating seeds, berries and nuts. A scientist called Charles Darwin collected some of these finches when he visited the Galapagos Islands and it is often stated that the finches were key to the development of his theory of evolution. The Galapagos finches helped Darwin to solidify his idea of natural selection – the process in nature, according to Darwin’s theory of evolution, by which the living things best able to evolve and adapt to their changing environments tend to survive. Animals that fail to adapt, as food and climates change, die out and can become extinct. Species that survive, like the finches, breed and have offspring that can also take advantage of the local food supplies and their populations grow and thrive. If the finches, when entering their new Galapagos habitats, had failed to evolve quickly and take advantage of their new food supplies (by adapting their beaks), then it would have been very likely that the finches would have died out.

  5. Jenny Rogers October 29, 2022 at 21:26 - Reply

    What a great story with such passion and empathy. Sounds like you are enjoying this wonderful educational experience.

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