New Economy Journal

A Poem: Migrating Starlings & Journeys of Survival

Volume 1, Issue 1

April 13, 2019

By - Nilmini De Silva

Piece length: 531 words

© Nilmini De Silva Photography 2016
Share article

It was a quiet morning walk in the Daintree Rainforest
When the silence was sliced, by their agitated screeching
Our attention arrested, we hasten our pace
To race up the tower, what could be amiss
The metallic starlings are causing a ruckus
Shiny purple and green, they reflect back the sunlight
Messy globular nests meet our gaze on arrival
Suspended in treetops of a leafy rainforest
Only then do we discern the cause of disruption
A slithering lace monitor, it’s breakfast he’s after
These eggs will do nicely, the starlings are livid
Our gaze is transfixed by the drama unfolding
The fittest surviving is the show that’s on offer
A rare chance to witness a startling performance


We can’t even fathom
Their annual story
The distance they’ve travelled
Through pain and much struggle
All this to reach the Daintree Rainforest
To build nests, lay eggs—it’s their cycle repeated
Their flight path traced back to Papua New Guinea
This journey to Queensland was not without peril
From predators, fatigue and physical exhaustion
Imagine how futile
If this journey was halted
By imaginary lines such as borders and fences
Ecosystems would fail without seasonal migration
Birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, even crustaceans will tell you
To survive we must move
Follow the food and escape wild weather
To breed and produce the next generation
To offer a meal and enable predation
The starling’s life cycle creates a scrumptious bonanza
Beneath trees where they rest is a feast for the forest
From the woodwork come possums, goannas and snakes
While palm cockatoos might hover up higher
It’s a magnet for all, a festival of feasting


This Circle of Life is a natural law
Only humans, it seems, discount at their peril
If our ancestors could talk
They would open our eyes
Share stories that tell us the reason we’re here
As nomads we roamed for thousands of years
Before First Australians found their way to this land
Details of this journey may still be unclear
But it’s a story of migration, of a travelling life
In a place that provided such bounty for all
There were hundreds of Nations stretching back over time
With no ownership structures or places to fence
Instead a connection to land, so deep and profound
This spiritual connection was lived out each day
The landscape created, a paradise for all
When Cook did arrive, he was startled to find
A Garden of Eden, so tranquil and free
T’was sacred to them, they valued it greatly
Custodians of Country not owners of land
Then passed on to kin to carry it on
A tradition with meaning and lessons for life


Sea levels are rising
Our neighbours in strife
We can choose to ignore or prepare for the change
When the water is lapping at our mansions on sand
Where will we go, who will give us a hand?
Let’s learn from history there’s no other way
Acknowledge our connection to the earth and each other
Building walls is so futile it’s obvious to see
Let’s tear down the fences
Make room for each other
When the climate is changing
There’s only one option
The freedom to move is the only solution.


Nilmini De Silva Photography

© Nilmini De Silva Photography 2016

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.