Farewell, Flappy McFlapperson

Society & Culture

A bird who gained fame in Beijing among nature- and science-lovers died on a migratory route back to the city, Birding Beijing sadly reports. Flappy McFlapperson was so named by students at Dulwich International School in Beijing in 2016, at which point she was fitted with a tracking device and followed online by a steadily growing audience.

Flappy had, like other Eurasian cuckoos, undertaken a startling yearly globe-trot, all the way from southern Africa, winding through Southeast Asia, and reaching to Beijing and beyond, ending up at breeding grounds in northern Mongolia. She died on May 14 or 15 over central Myanmar, according to data from her tracker. As Birding Beijing puts it in a post that does justice to Flappy’s fable:

It’s no exaggeration to say that Flappy McFlapperson, or “Flappy” as she was affectionately known, will be missed by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people around the world.

To learn more about the incredible cuckoos, listen to a Sinica Podcast from 2015 featuring the creator of the Birding Beijing website, Terry Townshend, and read a Q&A with Terry on The China Project here.

With thanks to Chris Buckley, I end this celebration of Flappy’s life with some words from a poem, “The Death of The Bird” by A.D. Hope.  The full text can be found here but the poem begins:

“For every bird there is this last migration…”

and ends:

“And darkness rises from the eastern valleys,
And the winds buffet her with their hungry breath,
And the great earth, with neither grief nor malice,
Receives the tiny burden of her death.”