The story of the Long-tailed Shrike is based on his most horrible fears. He is staring at himself, paralysed by the joy of flying mixed with the dread of being so distracted that he may suddenly find his whole life has passed and now he is dead.
So he tries to solidify the present moment by collecting bits and pieces of clocks, desperately trying to possess the seconds, minutes, hours and years of his fleeting life. But their mechanisms never stop clicking, and there is no escape from the passage of time. So he accumulates jewels, hoping that their weight will help to fight gravity and bring him closer to earth, where he would be safe and grounded.
Is he dead because he was afraid of living? Or is he trying to hold onto life, in any form, even from death?