Birds seem beautiful until flights of frenzy
There is this little sparrow who visits me every workday. He (or she, I really don’t know, to be fair) swings by around 8 a.m. or so and then again about 9ish, typically.
He sits on the ledge of my windowsill and sings. Sometimes he even turns his head and chirps straight into the office, almost as if he’s looking directly at me, trying to tell me something.
I love him.
I look for him every single weekday morning. His squeaks and whistles cheer me.
Then there are those big brothers of his — birds of prey, I believe they are often called. You know, those majestic, regal creatures whose wingspans resemble mini-parachutes and which cast wide, imposing shadows back down here on the ground. They are massive and glorious and so very impressive … at least, I think so.
In our region, we are fortunate to be able to see several of them often — hawks, falcons, owls and, if we’re really, really lucky, the occasional bald eagle.
I also enjoy watching warblers, blue jays (and any other blue birds!), cardinals, herons, woodpeckers, cranes and geese (especially in gaggles and flying in V formation or landing in ponds, lakes, etc.). Shoot, I even love to see wild turkeys sauntering by. Let’s not forget robins, which are the announcers of spring each year, bless their red little chests.
And who, in their right mind, doesn’t absolutely adore hummingbirds? Um, hello, hovering adorableness!
I’m so very fond of them all, which is why what I’m about to divulge next may confuse most if not all of you.
I hate birds. Okay, hate’s a very strong word. It’s just that, well, crows, pigeons, vultures, barn swallows — yeah, I hate ’em.
But they started it!
Listen, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been dive-bombed by some crazy barn swallow while running in the park or in my neighborhood. I’m not kidding. It’s not like I stopped to inspect a nest up close or touched random eggs therein or even slowly walked toward a mama bird feeding her babies some nice puked-up worm guts. Blech.
I was merely jogging along, minding my own business doing my best to fight age, gravity and cortisol, when BAM! This loon of a swallow comes at me out of nowhere. It’s happened a bunch.
And then there are the dozens (yes, dozens) of times over the years I have been attacked by Jonathan Livingston himself.
Seagulls are among my most despised adversaries, my friends. Sure, they almost fool you with their seemingly playful squawks and the way they bob up and down atop lake or ocean waves.
But just when they lure you into thinking they’re your innocent, summertime, beachfront pal, bada-bing, they come straight for your favorite Indians’ ball cap for no apparent reason.
So you can imagine the cold shiver to run down my spine during a recent trip to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium when I spotted one of their aviaries and heard a voice sounding an awful lot like mine saying, “We should go check that out,” to my husband and son.
“Wait, who said that?” my brain yelled to my larynx. “IDIOT!”
And before I knew it, we were in the middle of a breezeway being briefed on how to wash our hands to keep the buzzards, I mean pretty birds, clean and how to only open the inner door if the outer door was securely fastened shut so as not to let any of the multi-colored, winged wonders take flight out there into the actual, real atmosphere.
“Now, if one should become aggressive…” I heard some young gal begin to explain and I slapped a hand over my throat and used the other as a frontal shield. I’m not entirely sure what happened next as I believe I blacked out for most of the visit.
“Mom, how freaked out are you right now?” Kyle said with a laugh, knowing well my irrational fear of most birds.
“One thousand percent,” I said, but only in a hushed tone so as not to call attention to myself. Dude, the coiled, hissing and looking-like-he-was-about-to-strike Burmese Python and ominous Flying Fox Bats hanging upside down in a dark, dank cave didn’t frighten me one millionth as much as that rainbow lorikeet who kept eyeballing me, yo.
And though I didn’t die in the aviary as I was certain I would, I can’t help but to have noticed the look on the face of a certain parrot as I shut the exterior door and breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’m sending a message to all my sister seagulls about how you refused to help me escape,” his narrow gaze seemed to threaten as I walked quickly away. Gulp.
Maybe my little sparrow is a distant cousin who can talk some sense into him? I’ll work on that first thing tomorrow…
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist who loves birds — except the ones she hates. Learn more about her many phobias and irrational fears at www.patriciakimerer.com