Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Strange Public Lives of Birds

Where I grew up, there wasn't much in the way of wildlife. I was born and raised in a town surrounded by heavily farmed land. We didn't have squirrels because there weren't enough trees clustered in one spot to support them. We didn't have ducks or geese flying overhead because we were dozens of miles from any natural wetlands. When you fly over the Central Valley and look down and see the fields all laid out like a patchwork quilt, and there doesn't seem to be any ungroomed land, that's pretty much correct. There's no wildlife because there's no wilderness.

Having grown up this way, I'm especially prone to irrational glee at the sight of squirrels, raccoons, and wild birds. "Honey, LOOK! Squirrel on a telephone wire!!!" Accountant Boy loves it when I shout like that when he's driving.


I can't help it. I've been late to meetings in the other building because I've stopped in the courtyard to listen to the geese honk as they fly overhead. Maybe it's this joyous wonderment that makes me pay more attention than most of the people around me, too much attention. Because lately, y'all? The birds have gone weird.

Exhibit A: Our office park has two resident wild turkeys. Perhaps the better term for them would be half-wild turkeys, because they're not exactly living the rugged, hardscrabble life. A woman from the first floor of my old building feeds them. She stands on the sidewalk and throws kashi at them, and they happily peck it up. Here's where it gets awkward. When the wild turkeys do, you know, what wild turkeys with a high-fiber diet do, she coos her congratulations to them. "Good turkey! Good poopies! Krrrrooowowowowoodle... (Strange cooing sound that she must think is comforting to them.) GOOD poopies!" They stare up at her, waiting for more kashi. I back away slowly.

Exhibit B: I was startled by the sound of ambulance sirens on the way into the office last week. We're right below a hospital, so it's not uncommon to hear sirens, but these were really loud. I guess the little sparrow in the nearby tree got startled, too. He flew right in front of me, and right into a window. "Dude!" I exclaimed, because I couldn't think of anything better to say, "Are you O.K.?" Like the bird understood me. But in a way, it was like he did, like he was saying, "Yeah, I'm an idiot. What the hell did I just do?". He fluttered a little bit in mid-flight, almost like he was walking off the hit, then turned and flew back to his perch in the tree. "Alright then," I said as I walked past. "You be more careful next time, 'kay?"


Exhibit C: Driving to work a few days ago, I kept pace with a couple of Canada geese, flying straight up the freeway. Not across the freeway, but directly above it, like they were commuting with me.

Exhibit D: Driving to work a couple of days ago, stopped at a light on Treat Boulevard, I saw a man riding a bicycle down the sidewalk. He turned to look back, and I swear it looked like he was making sure that his pet duck was following him, because there was a mallard coming up fast behind him.

Exhibit E: This morning at the Crow Canyon offramp, right out in the triangle of dirt between the ramps, two crows f&%king.

It's been a weird few weeks in avian observation. Human observation, too.

In other news, I'm still knitting, although I've slowed down a bit. I haven't figured out how to position my keyboard tray in my new cubicle. I realized this morning that my fingers hurt because I'm curling my wrists backward when I type. As a result, my hands are really sore, but I'm not going to let a little thing like that stop me. I finished the back of Starsky, and now I'm on to the fronts. I want to be done by April.

5 comments:

Bobbi said...

the knitting looks great. Ok I reread the post twice what's up the video game gun?

SuzannaBanana said...

Why, it's Nintendo's 'Duck Hunt', of course! I was sort of in a mood this morning, and I happened to have a picture of it uploaded on Photobucket, and I don't have any pictures of birds, in flagrante delicto or not, so there it is. One of my coworkers gave me the game and the gun for Christmas, after I mentioned that I still have two ancient NES consoles, but no light gun.

Kathy said...

You know what? When I was a college freshman 300 billion years ago there was a poster in our student union which read "Giant Canadian Geese: What Are They and Where Do They Come From?" I always thought to myself, "why, they're giant geese! And they're from Canada!" But now I wonder if they were after something else. I don't know!

Batty said...

I used to play Duck Hunt on my cousin's Nintendo all the time! It was loads of fun, I have very fond memories of that game.

The knitting is looking good. Don't see why it shouldn't be done by April. Just don't hurt your wrists.

Bobbi said...

ah! I should have looked closer! :)