Sovereigns of The Skies: Birds
Do they not see the birds suspended in mid-air up in the sky? Nothing holds them there except Allah. There are certainly Signs in that for people who have faith. (Surat an-Nahl: 79)
Like everyone else, you have most probably wanted to fly like a bird. Looking at birds, you may think flying is easy, but it is not as easy as it seems!
A bird uses great energy when it takes wing because it has to lift all its body with its tiny wings. Yet, once it is up in the air, Allah has made it easy for it to remain aloft without expending too much effort. Birds can fly for a long time by allowing themselves to rely on the wind.
This way, they hardly tire since they consume very little energy. When the effect produced by the wind diminishes, they begin to flap their wings again. By means of this feature Allah has given birds, they can cover very long distances and migrate to remote destinations.
There are bird species that can cover distances between 1000 to 40000 kilometres (621 and 24840 miles). Considering that it is 40000 kilometres (24840 miles)around the earth, you can conceive better the long distances covered by birds.
Passing over the oceans, they have no chance to take a break and rest. How birds maintain their direction during their thousands of kilometres long flights still remains a mystery. Each year, birds migrate to their destinations without losing their ways. This holds true for young birds as well as adults.
It is interesting that birds' legs, so slender and little in comparison to their bodies, can carry their entire bodies. It is amazing that so many muscles, veins and nerves can exist in such a slender leg! If birds' legs were thicker and relatively more bulky, it would be more difficult for them to fly.
Almost all birds sleep on one leg. This does not upset their balance since their body weight is concentrated on this one leg. Allah has created birds with the features that enable them to maintain such a delicate balance.
One of the best sensory organs of birds is their eyes. Apart from the ability to fly, Allah has also granted birds superior sight, because, flight, which is itself a miracle, becomes extremely dangerous unless it is supported by superior sight. Birds can see objects at a distance much better than human beings and have a wider angle of vision. Noticing the dangers beforehand, they accurately determine their speed and the direction of their flight.
Birds' eyes remain fixed in the eye sockets, that is, they can't move their eyes as human beings can. However, they can widen the angle of vision by rapidly turning their heads and necks.
Furthermore, night birds such as owls have very large eyes. Some special cells in their eyes are sensitive to dim light. The vision of barred owls, for example, is 100 times keener than that of human beings. Thanks to this feature, owls can see and hunt very well at night.
The eyes of water fowl, on the other hand, have been created for clear underwater vision. While we can't keep our eyes open underwater for even 45 seconds, water birds can easily catch insects and molluscs in water as they plunge their heads into it. Since this is the only way for them to feed themselves, they must have clear vision underwater. For this reason, Allah has created a special structure in their eyes, which permits seeing underwater. Thanks to this structure, these birds don't have dim sight underwater; they see very clearly and can immediately swim towards their prey.
Hearing is also very important for birds. Some birds have eardrums that enable them to hear very low sounds. Being able to see very well in darkness and underwater and being able to hear very low sounds are abilities that human beings don't possess. Indeed, we don't need these faculties very much, because, we can readily lead our lives without them. However, it is impossible for birds to eat, feed their young, and continue their lives and their race without these abilities.
The ears of owls are very sensitive to sound. They have better hearing than human beings. There are hair-like bristles on both sides of an owls' face, which collect sound waves and send them into the inner ear. These bristles also separate one ear from the other and thus the sound coming from the right is largely heard by the right ear. Moreover, the ears are not positioned symmetrically on the head. One ear is higher than the other. So, the owl perceives the sounds from different directions and, although he does not see it, he correctly determines the location of the creature that makes the sound. This is a very important advantage in snowy weather, when it becomes hard to find prey.
Some birds produce various voices to mislead their predators. For instance, many bird species that make nests in holes in trees hiss like snakes when they are disturbed. So, predators attempting to attack the nest stay away from it, assuming that there is a snake in it.
Besides, our Lord has given some bird species webbed feet to help them swim faster when they are in water. These webbed feet are similar to flippers. If you have ever worn flippers while swimming, you will know how it helps you swim. Some species have such flippers at birth.
Some bird species build fake nests to protect their young from predators. Especially in Africa and India, animals which feed on bird eggs are legion. For this reason, African wrens protect their eggs in a real nest surrounded by many fake nests. The snakes living on trees in tropical regions are very poisonous. For this reason, the entrances to the nests of the penduline-tit colonies peculiar to that region are secret and complicated. Moreover, as another precaution, these birds make their nests on acacia trees with densely thorny branches, and deceive their predators with many empty – fake – nests.
Have you ever paid attention to the beaks of the birds that fly around us everyday? Allah created these beaks, which vary from one species to another, with very important functions. Birds' beaks have the most appropriate shapes that enable them to feed in their environments. The beaks of birds that feed on fish, for example, are generally long and ladle-shaped, making them good fishers. If the bird feeds on plants, then the beak of the bird has a perfect match with the plant on which it feeds. As these examples show, Allah's creation is flawless and complete because He gives all creatures the features they need.