Lately, every time I see a bird I'm struck with the whimsy that maybe they know everything. As a colony of bees can have a collective consciousness totally alien to humans, why can't birds have a collective memory?
Maybe every bird, while knowing its current bird stuff, also participates in some way with evolutionary memory, in understanding it was also once a great hulking lizard carnivore. So part of the work of being a bird is understanding you're a bird and a dinosaur at the same time? That would be so wonderful for them. In less complex times that I thought were plenty complex, I watched bird parents urging a nestling to fly. It was pretty interesting. What a thrill that must be to realize your wings work and you can fly.
A collective memory would mean understanding in some bird way, you were once hiding in the tall grass with your pack, waiting for a migrating herd of plant eaters to come into striking distance. Nervous, so nervous. Many of them got away because you couldn't take the tension and struck too soon. Then a million years later you were smaller, with feathers, and you climbed trees, and that is where you hid waiting for smaller prey. You glided down upon them, and then one day? You found out you could not just glide, you can FLY! You are the very first. You don't fly because Mom & Dad can fly, you are the first ever! What a joyous thing it must feel, to be the first ever creature to soar above the land.
If my whimsy is right, every bird understands they are also the first bird, and also the smart dinosaurs who hid in the tall grass.
We are all we have been, good and bad. Our current form reflects the needs of the times. Each sunny day, when we take flight casting a shadow on the ground, we understand in some way, we once owned the land below. Back then, everything that walked on land feared us. Now we own the air. We are all we have been, and it may be we will be that again, who knows? But it is a beautiful thing to recall not only our first flight, but the first flight of our ancient ancestor, and all that came before.