Another reason birds are for everyone: they fill up the gaps in your social network. I mean, sure, you’ve got bags of adoring pals (what birder doesn’t?), but have you got any of those irritating friends who aren’t really your friends, but you’ve known them for ages, so you’re sort of stuck with them? What about a horrid old long-nosed aunt, who can’t seem to stay out of your business? A nemesis? Ha! Didn’t think so. Fortunately for you, you’ve got these fellows to take up the slack:
WHAT, YOU’RE NOT UP YET?
You know this guy: he’s like a broken alarm clock, always bothering you at strange hours, and always shocked to find you in bed. He rings you in the morning, all “Oh, were you sleeping? Man, it’s six o’clock! I can’t believe you’re still in bed. Don’t you have to get ready for work? Anyway….” — and then, he’s off on some interminable tangent; he never shuts up. It doesn’t occur to him that you might want to drift back off, till your actual alarm’s ready to go. Or he catches you sneaking an afternoon nap: “Dude! Dude! What are you doing? It’s still light out! Dude!” Dude! Sod off!
Comes sliding in, makes a lot of noise, knocks stuff over, eats everything in sight — enough said.
FOLKS YOU’VE KNOWN SINCE HIGH SCHOOL, WHO BELIEVE THEMSELVES YOUR FRIENDS, BUT THE TRUTH IS, YOU THINK THEY’RE KINDA LOSERS
A lot of feeder birds fall into this category: house sparrows, rock doves, female house finches, house sparrows, house sparrows, house sparrows, house sparrows…. I mean, you’re sort of happy to see them. They’re birds. They’re cute. Their antics are amusing. But at the same time, they’re scoffing all your seed, and frightening off the more interesting birds. Ever seen a pack of house sparrows mob a flicker? Not pretty.
FROM HELL’S HEART I STAB AT THEE; FOR HATE’S SAKE I SPIT MY LAST BREATH AT THEE
My birdly nemesis, at the moment, is something I call the WTFerfowl, because I see it in the water, and I don’t know WTF it is. It’s large and brown, sort of goosey-looking, with orangish-red bits under its chin, and extra-large feet. It likes to hide behind boats and under docks, where I can’t get a picture of it, or even see it properly. Once I’ve photographed and identified the WTFerfowl, something even more elusive will take its place. (I don’t quite have Ahab’s attention span.)
Well, you’ve probably already got a mother, but in case you haven’t, or yours doesn’t scold you enough, have an aggressive little bird. Robins, chickadees, sparrows, hummingbirds — any sort of toaty, territorial bugger — these all make good mothers. A friend of mine was in Southern California over Christmas, and he saw someone get smacked in the face with a hummingbird. It dove down, drew blood, and fluttered off. So far, I haven’t been outright assaulted by a tiny, angry bird, but I get told off daily by song sparrows. There’s a whole COLONY of ’em in the bushes along Bucketwheel, and they don’t like people using the street. So far, I’ve been squawked at while engaged in the following innocuous activities:
* Sitting on the wall, specifically NOT swinging my feet, so’s not to disturb the birds;
* Using the street as intended (ie, walking down it);
* Bumping into someone I knew, and stopping to chat;
* Eating a sandwich;
* Taking photographs from a respectable distance.
Get off my back, Mother! No, there’s not a button missing from my coat; yes, these are the shoes I’m wearing; yes, this is healthy food. Sheesh!
THAT GUY WHO THINKS THE WORLD OWES HIM A LIVING, BECAUSE OF THAT ONE TIME HE WAS LEGITIMATELY WRONGED
This sparrow was born with ugly feet, and feels it deserves, by way of compensation, an entire balcony to itself. (In fact, I do wonder if this sparrow has been exiled from the colony on Bucketwheel, on account of its defective feet. I never get any other song sparrows, up here; just this one, which shows up several times a day. I used to get them a lot, but then house sparrows came, and everything more timid found somewhere else to eat.)
A JERK WHO IS NOT REALLY PART OF YOUR SOCIAL CIRCLE, AT ALL, BUT WHO SPENDS A LOT OF TIME WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND, SO YOU HAVE TO TOLERATE HIS PRESENCE, TO AN EXTENT
This bird is a total jackass. I mean, not just this bird, but — well, you know the sort. You could call him the “jerky birdie,” the bane of photographers, sketchers, and anyone looking for small, easy-to-miss field marks. He hides in tangles of branches, flaps his wings at inopportune moments, and whirls around to present you with his tail, every time you try to take his picture. He frequents patches of bad light — even on the sunniest of days, he can find some murky nook to squeeze into. He’s really a pest. When the jerky birdie is an especially rare or fascinating specimen, he may progress to the role of nemesis.
…AND A CAST OF SEVERAL
Furthermore, if you’re in need of noisy neighbours, litter louts, a creepy guy across the way who watches you dress and undress, a terrifying stranger who jumps out of the bushes and scares the wits out of you, a garden vandal, et cetera, allow me to give you…the bird. (Oh, ha-ha.)