Friday, April 23, 2010

For the Birds

In my last post, I talked about jerks. Those were human jerks. I’m not sure birds can be jerks. They’re just being birds. But I’ve had a couple of memorable encounters with them.

Everybody knows about mockingbirds. They’re territorial, and they’re fearless. Just ask my cats. Or, for that matter, just ask me.

One afternoon in Brownwood, I was jogging down the street, such as it was, that passed bedside the junior high building when I was dive-bombed by a mockingbird. I don’t remember the time of year, but it must have been nesting season. Fool that I was, I’d intruded on the mother mocker’s territory, and she didn’t like it one bit.

I wouldn’t have minded if she’d given up after the first swipe at my head, but she didn’t. She chased me all the way down the street, shrilling and flapping. It was embarrassing.

Even worse, she did it again the next day.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I should have run a different route, but I’m as stubborn as any bird, by golly. The next day I went back, and, sure enough, the bird attacked. This time I was ready for her. I had a long piece of red cellophane ribbon that I waved in the air. The bird was so startled that she flew away and left me alone. After that, I tied the cellophane to my headband. The bird would swoop down, see the cellophane fluttering behind me, and fly back to wherever it was that she came from.

So the ribbon did the trick. Either that, or the bird thought I was crazy and didn’t want to have anything to do with me.

Mockingbirds might be territorial, but they aren’t dangerous. Hawks are another story.

Sometimes I’d run down Indian Creek Road. I ‘d run exactly 2-1/2 miles, ending at the top of a very steep hill, turn around, and run home. One day on the home leg of the run, a screaming came across the sky. I had no idea what it was. It sounded like a jet plane. The scary part was that it was headed right for me.

I looked up over my shoulder and saw a huge bird (okay, maybe not so huge, but it looked huge to me) falling like a rock, and it had taken dead aim on my head.

As you might recall, I teleported once when a rattlesnake surprised me. I didn’t do that this time, but I discovered that I could run about ten times as fast as mortal man is supposed to run. You know those legendary 9.0 hundred-yard dashes you’ve read about? If only someone had been timing me that day! I’m pretty sure I broke the nine-second barrier.

Even at that I almost didn’t elude that hawk. I felt the jet stream as it whooshed by me.

To this day I don’t why the hawk was after me. I hadn’t done anything. There was no nest around. There wasn’t much of anything around. Maybe the hawk was soaring so high above me that I looked like a bunny to him. Or a fieldmouse.

You remember the Peanuts cartoon in which Snoopy says, “Birds find me fascinating” (or something like that)? They don’t find me fascinating. They do, however, seem to find me.


Todd Mason said...

Now, if you just had a boa (not the feathery kind) around your neck as you ran, perhaps the hawk would've been dissuaded. Or perhaps a feather boa would've done the trick, given how you flummoxed the mockingbird...Jesse Ventura references notwithstanding...

Perhaps also the latter-day dinosaurs resent your preference for the crocodilians...

Bill Crider said...

I wish I'd thought of the boa. I'd have been a fashion trend-setter for sure.