Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Birds

"When birds burp, it must taste like bugs.” Bill Watterston
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I have seen Hitchcock's movie "The Birds," and I remember thinking to myself "What an imagination to make a scary movie about a bunch of blackbirds!" Then I moved to the Ozarks later in life and came face to beak with our own flocks of swarming birds.

For most of the time they are here they don't make a ton of noise. The other birds sing and chirp and squawk, but you don't hear much from these blackbirds (I think they are robins)until the fall temperatures start dropping. Then they seem to start realizing that it is cold, and all the other birds have flown south for the winter, and they better hurry up and get packed for their flight.

First they load up on food. Flocks of thousands of birds land in the pastures and grab worms. Worms don't freak me out in general, but when I see the blackbirds plucking them up by the thousands it really makes me not want to walk through a damp pasture.
After a bit of worm-grubbing, they will suddenly decide to collectively fly three feet over and see what kind of grub they can find there. They all fly up, swirl around in a blackbird cloud, and resettle, making such a ruckus that they even get the horses to pay attention.
And if even one of them senses danger, such as the click of a camera out the window of a truck pulled over on the dirt road, they head for the highest tree available. They like the ones that are completely naked now, and they fill them so full that they look like bird leaves.
When I finished driving down the road, I found another flock in my front yard. We have five trees in our front yard, but they only like the two tall oaks. They sit up there, fluffed up to keep warm, and chattering at the top of their gullets. And the colder the weather gets, the louder they get. I think they are a bunch of bickerers because of the tone of their squawking.

"Joe, I told you two weeks ago it was getting cold. You never listen to me. Now all the best tree tops are going to be taken. You know I hate waiting until the last minute. Don't you know the early bird gets the worm????"

"Quit nagging me, Ethel. I didn't want to get caughtup in the October-o-clock traffic. You know how congested the southbound winds get in the early fall."

"Geez, John... do those two ever shut up?"
I think it is pretty cool to be able to step 5 feet off my porch and hear them all interact. Of course, it can be intimidating to have a thousand black birds stare at you and squawk at the top of their lungs, but then again, there is a reason Hitchcock was inspired to make that movie wasn't there? I don't worry about them eating us, but you might notice that none of the pictures are taken from directly under the tree. Nobody should stand under a tree full of fully-loaded cranky blackbirds.

1 comment:

Rachel@just another day in paradise said...

when we lived in Lincoln, the birds lived in the trees outside our house (right in the middle of town). It took us weeks before we could learn to sleep through the night! They were the loudest things I've ever heard. . .Kevin dreamed of shooting a few warning shots to scare them away. . .

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