Wednesday, January 30, 2008


There are a lot of interesting birds around here. I don't mean interesting species, but interesting birds. Individuals. Real characters. Some of them are complete mysteries. When you live where this great a variety of birds actually do their thing, you get to see that they have character, for example the manic warbler, and the crazy bird I’ve never spotted that shouts "What the hell?" over and over at every Spring sunrise, then there's Dr. Crow of course, couldn't go without mentioning mister dark wisdom himself, much referenced in these ethereal pages-- or the hawks, the swallows, the pheasant in lust or the ducks in love--

For recent example - this afternoon in fact - there's a certain bird, the screaming blur that hangs around here and is highly secretive about his true identity (I suspect it may be a brown-eared bulbul, but I've never spotted him in well-lit stillness), he blends in so well with the gray lower branches of the cedars where he mainly seems to hang out cloaked in the darkling invisibility he prefers, all in perfect keeping with his gothic mood, because although he's very territorial, he's also extremely paranoid at all times of year (which for a bird is really extreme), so whenever I go outside in this leafless time and that bird is within 50 yards of the house he spots my sinister movement and screams "Look out everybirdy! The monster just came out of that unnatural structure there and it's coming for us, it's moving this way with giant claws, it has two legs but no feathers! Fly for your lives! FLYY! FLYYYY! FLYYYYY!" And he keeps that racket up until everybirdy within 100 yards has flown to safety in fear of their lives, he himself taking off at the last minute, still screaming for all he's worth, leaving behind only a dancing branch just before I can grab him with my long giant claws and devour him whole. Interesting bird. Don't really know him; just a gray blur streaking off screaming into the dusk of the trees.

Then there are the frantic tiny feeders who come by once or twice a year in large numbers and scour every inch of every tree for insects and whatever they can find in the way of avian fast food. Some weeks ago Echo put up a pretty realistic sort of 3D sticker butterfly high up on the big glass doors by the weeping cherry for when the grandgirls came over the holidays, and when a few days ago those birds arrived to scour the tree, every five minutes during bird-party time one of them would spot the delectable butterfly hovering right there midair in delicious stillness (talk about out-of-season but who cares, it's like caviar in NYC) and dive for it before any other bird could get it, hit the glass BONG!, flutter stunned to the deck below and stand there wobbly for a few minutes looking up, trying to figure out the meaning of glass and what the hell was that butterfly, then it would fly back to the tree and give another of its fellows a crack at the inviting delicacy.

This went on for a goodly time (Bong! Bong!) until a couple dozen birds had gone for the big bright snack and hit the deck, by which time I suspect some of them were sitting there in the cherry tree chuckling to each other, chirping "Psst: There goes Harry: Look: He spotted the 'butterfly.' Go for it, Harry, Grab that baby! Go get it, Harry, it's all yours! HA HA HAA!"

There's also the thrush that collided once with our big kitchen windowpane, and no thrush ever since has done so.

Like I said, when you get to be really neighbors with them, not watchers or hunters or simply-passing-byers and whatnot, bird personalities can be pretty surprising, anthropomorphically speaking. No doubt just as surprising as I am to them, aviomorphically speaking.

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