A Kitchen Visitor

Here’s another bird story:

I visited a friend on Labor Day.  She lives on top of a mountain in a sprawling house, with a pool and several studios. She’s an artist and bird lover. We talked about the many species of birds that inhabit her world which she feeds – woodpeckers, ravens, blue jays, sparrows and a slew of others I can’t name. I don’t know my bird kingdom.

She also owns two dogs and two horses. The occasional fox shows up at night looking for food as do many deer. IMG_0205

The next day a hawk flew into her dining room, and smashed all her vases by the windows in its attempts to flee. Without breaking into a sweat, my friend threw a blanket over it and took it outside. It stood very still for a few seconds, she said, and then flew into a nearby tree and glared back at her.

I’m calling her the bird whisperer.

I couldn’t have done that. I would have panicked, and then the bird would have flown all over the house, crashing into things, the dogs would have gone after it, leaving loose feathers and flesh all over the place, and I would have ended up calling 911 and all of us going to the ER for stitches.

Calvin says, “A hawk? You’re kidding me, right? Why don’t you take me with you on these visits!?” beagle

 

Crazy Birds

I love birds. At times they’re even funny.

I drove by a soccer field this week with a match in full play. The geese made me laugh out loud. This was clearly their field and they weren’t too happy with the invasion. So what were they doing? The were standing on the sidelines watching the game.  IMG_1978

We have woodpeckers in the neighborhood. You can hear their drilling on the telephone poles early mornings. They break for a siesta when the temperatures rise, then resume their work in the cool of the evening. One day our telephone connection will go dead. I’ll call the company on my cell phone and I’ll let them know who to arrest.

The other day a sparrow slammed into the window and crashed to the ground. It sat there with its heart beating through its chest, eyes glazed, all puffed out. We waited 30 minutes and then checked to see if it was dead. It was still alive. Another 30 minutes. We checked again. Still there. This time its beak was tucked into its wing and it was sleeping. We walked outside, it looked up at us, but didn’t move. We came back inside the house and got busy with other things. We completely forgot about it until later on in the afternoon. We checked through the window. It had flown away. I was relieved.

“What makes you think a cat didn’t eat it?” Alf said.

“No feathers,” I said.

That settled the matter.

Calvin says, “Birds are only good for one thing – sticking my nose into their chests and breathing in deeply.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rumble Under My Feet

My sister, who lives in Los Angeles, was rocked awake this morning by a 4.4 earthquake.

“Our cats levitated off the bed, helicopter style, with fur on their backs straight up. Impressive!” she said.

Then she added, “Keep those emergency supplies well stocked! This is California!”

And Kentucky, and Oregon, and a slew of other states that are not immune these days from the earth moving under people’s feet.

I grew up in earthquake country.  Floorless roller coaster

I can sense an earthquake before it hits. There’s an eerie feeling in the air, and everything grows quiet. The birds stop chirping, the weather is warmer, and oftentimes a dark cloud hovers over the city.

Not sure if that was true of Los Angeles this morning, but I wasn’t there.

As a child, as soon as the floor began to rock and roll, my father would run into the living room and hold onto the crystal vases that lived on top of the bookshelf.

My mother hovered over the parakeet as the bird flapped around the cage panting it’s little heart out.

My sister and I looked on in wild-eyed amazement at the floor until it came to a stop.

I lived through the 1989 earthquake. I was home with my children. The garage door was open and Calvin and I were checking the freezer for dinner when all of a sudden the driveway transformed into a corkscrew roller-coaster track.

Calvin’s fur stood straight up, his ears flapped back, and he bayed. Then he fled into the house.

Calvin says, “I didn’t flee. I hid under the bed covers because I was dizzy.”

beagle

Brainy-Keet

I read in this week’s news of a clever Japanese parakeet that escaped from home, and landed on the shoulder of a hotel guest in a nearby hotel. The guest had no room in his luggage, so handed the bird over to the police where he remained silent. He didn’t even plead the fifth.

For two days the bird continued his silent treatment. Then on the night of the second day, he leaked his name and address.

The cops were stunned. Here was a voluntary confession they hadn’t squeezed out of the jailbird.

Sure enough, his owner was grateful to have him back. She told the police she had learned her lesson with another bird that flew away and was never able to find. This time, after buying the bird at a pet store two years ago, she had him memorize his name and street address.

What she forgot was his social security number.

Calvin says, “Beagles wouldn’t put up with that rot. We can sniff our way back home.”

Birds of a Feather

“Your father has a hummingbird in the freezer for you,” I said to my artist son, James in church yesterday as we settled into our chairs.

“Is he dead?” asked my daughter, Miranda.

“Of course, silly,” I said.

“He smashed into the window, right?” Miranda said.

“I have a hawk in my freezer,” said James. “For when I have time to draw it.”

“See, it runs in the family, ” I said.

“One of our neighbors, who says he’s a minister in the Universal Church, admitted he kept a pelican and other birds in his freezer,” said James. “You know, for when he needs a feather for a ceremony.”

Miranda rolled her eyes. My husband, Alf shook his head and I laughed.

It takes all kinds.

I wasn’t sure which kind we were though.

It reminded me of an incident when I was a child in Mexico. My family and I went on holiday to the beach and left our parakeet, Perry with Martina, the housekeeper. When we returned home she greeted us and motioned for us to come into the kitchen. Martina opened the freezer door of the refrigerator, where we kept the ice cubes and ice cream, and extracted Perry in a plastic bag. She pulled him out for us to see. His little white and turquoise body was rigid, his eyes were closed, and his feet were curled up. She explained he had died while we were away. Pitched forward and fell to the floor of his cage. If she had left him there, he would have turned into a heap of feathers and bones by the time we got back. So she stuck him in the freezer.

I didn’t believe her story. I just knew she had killed him. Out of jealousy.

Calvin says, “If I found a dead bird on the ground, I’d stick my nose deep into its chest and breathe bird into my memory bank.”

A Bird Story

“Did I tell you my bird story?” Peter asked peeking around the door of my office.

“I don’t think so,” I said.

He sat down in the chair opposite my desk.

“Do you have any chocolates?” he said.

I offered him my candy dish.

“Oh, these look good,” he said as he unwrapped a truffle.

“I found a canary in my garden a few months ago. It had fallen out of its nest. I scooped it up and put it in a box. I fed it and took care of it, but realized with my work hours I couldn’t keep it, so I asked my friend, Luisa, you know, the one with the eight kids, if she’d like to have it.”

“‘What color is it, and will it sing?'” she asked me.

“‘It’s gray, and if it’s a female, she won’t sing,'” I said.

“‘You want me to take a gray canary that won’t sing?'” she said. “‘Oh, alright.'”

“It turned out the family loved the canary and tamed it. It spent most of the time outside of its cage. And she did sing. She’d land on your head and sing her songs. Then one day Luisa called me to come over. When I got there they told me the canary was dead. It was in the freezer waiting for me to have a proper funeral.

“How did it happen?” I asked.

“One of the children sat on it,” Peter said.

Calvin says, “If a bird landed on my head, I’d bay and the poor thing would drop dead.”