Luke and Anna's time in Garra Nalla is defined in part by the local birds, a symbol of new life and the possibility of change. The novel opens with an explanation of Luke's new and surprising interest in bird-watching. This immediately establishes a link between birds and the novel's themes of change and personal growth. The trend continues when Luke and Anna begin bird-watching together shortly after moving out of the city. They're excited and proud to learn to identify the local bird species, as it makes them feel like they truly belong in their new, rural home. In other words, the birds have become a symbol of positive change in their lives. Possibly the most significant example of this idea is the strange, owl-like bird that Luke encounters on his way home from a walk one evening. The bird stares at him while he stares back, and this experience fills him with a sense of awe and unexpected happiness.
But these feelings are turned on their head towards the end of the novel, when Luke finds the same bird dead on his floor. He's surprisingly upset over this discovery, but it's not really the bird he's mourning. The sight of the dead bird reminds Luke of Anna's miscarriage not long ago. If the local birds represent positive change, the dead owl-like bird embodies a potential change that was thwarted and never came to pass. However, the sight of this bird forces Luke to face the feelings he's been trying to avoid. This ultimately causes the most important change in the novel: Luke and Anna coming to terms with their grief over the miscarriage. The unexpected return of the swans in the lagoon at the end of the novel reflects the couple's newfound sense of peace. As the swans return, the novel's symbolism implies that Luke and Anna have finally changed for the better.
Birds Quotes in Vertigo
But now, at the age of thirty-four, he has taken to bird-watching. It’s true he might once have laughed at this, but since then much has changed.
There is no time: time is a loop of endless return, a return to this moment, which is not strange but a coming home, and it does not occur to him to ask where this home is because he is simply there, he is in it; this silent space of euphoric emptiness. And for the rest of his walk home he is elated. He has never been happier; pointlessly, mindlessly happy.
Alan is standing at the edge of the grassy path, beside the body of a dead swan. It appears to have flown into the wires overhead and been electrocuted, and not all that long ago since there is no sign of it having been set upon by crows. It’s a deflating sight: the twisted black carcass, the slash of white feather down its middle, the broken neck splayed at a right angle, the crimson beak lying bright against the sandy stubble of the track.
Damn Luke, damn his stupid ideas. All he has succeeded in doing is creating a situation where she doesn’t feel at home anywhere. Now she belongs in neither place, like some migratory bird that has lost its bearings. But the most disturbing thing is this: here in the city there has been no sign of the boy.
‘In the middle of a bloody drought!’ fumes Gil. ‘It’ll be a fire hazard for one thing. And I’ll tell you another thing. It’ll suck up all the water out of the water table and eventually out of the lagoon. In five years’ time that lagoon will be a bloody mudflat. Them swans’ll have to find somewhere else to breed.’
‘Oh no,’ he sighs, “that’s the bird. That’s the one I told you about, the bird in the banksia tree.’
‘Are you sure?’ Anna stares at the stiff form on the mat. He must be mistaken. It can’t be that bird. This is just a common wattlebird, one of the predators of the garden, no loss to anyone.
‘Yes, that’s it! That’s the bird. Wouldn’t I know it?’
She looks at him in exasperation, amazed to see that he is distraught.