Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bird Logic

Cottonwood Tree in Bluff, Utah.
Cottonwood Tree in Bluff, Utah.

I silently stood at the base of the age old tree, trying to blend into the natural camouflage provided by the green, leafy canopy and filtered sunlight. Through the foliage and gnarled branches, the sky was a magnificent blue/white, with nary a cloud in sight. Where heaven and earth meet, the dramatic reddish orange, white capped cliffs that surround our small settlement stood out in sharp contrast. The image laid before me provided a visual feast for the eyes.

Leaving Steve and Priscilla to polish the glass and vacuum the red dust that had crept in during the wind gusts and brief but welcome rain shower the previous night, I had paused in my midmorning trading post duties to slip away for a moment and reacquaint myself with a treasured friend. Laying my hands on the interwoven and heavily textured bark and gazing skyward through her branches has always been a non-pharmaceutical form of stress relief therapy for me. Only a few minutes drive from our front doors stands this highly effective therapist that costs me only my time.

As I stood beside the tree, a dark cloud of small birds emerged from the riverbank. The sizable mass of feathered mayhem erratically darted in one direction and then another, as if guided by an unseen, drunken hand. A high pitched, chaotic blend of bird verbiage emanated from the fowl storm and wrecked the calm and peaceful atmosphere I was hoping to find. I thought for a moment the assemblage would pass me and my therapist by, but at the last minute the birds looped back and alighted, in mass, in my tree.

European Starling

Looking up into the black canopy forming in the cottonwood, I witnessed what I assumed to be an overwhelmingly large flock of Starlings. Those birds covered the tree thicker than hair on a bear, and the din they made was unbearable. Frowning up at the interlopers, I was about to let them know they were most unwelcome when, from the upper reaches of the tree, came a large, ominous drop of white rain. Sidestepping the assault, I realized I stood in harm's way when it came to being fertilized from above. It seemed the birds had something to say about me being there as well.

Feeling trapped and highly offended at the same time, I hugged the trunk of the tree and quickly relocated under one of its main branches. I should have simply walked away, but I was angry now; mad at these nasty natured neighbors and frustrated that my moment of solace had been snatched away by their intrusion. I cupped my hands and quickly clapped them together three times. The entire flock exploded into the air, as if triggered by a shotgun blast. At that exact moment, I learned a terrible lesson. It seems that frightened birds commonly "let loose" upon take off.

Cottonwood Tree in Bluff, Utah.
Cottonwood Tree in Bluff, Utah by Twin Rocks Trading Post.

The entire open space under that tree was whitewashed in a matter of moments. If I had not taken refuge below my protective branch, I too would have found myself turd and feathered. As it was, I stood mostly untouched. Counting myself extremely lucky, I decided it was time to return to work. Beating a hasty retreat away from my Cottonwood tree, I realized that nature really does not care much about human beings.

On my way back to the trading post, I had a few moments to ponder what had occurred and develop a few thoughts: first; the animal world probably figures they have been forced out of prime natural habitat far too often to feel sorry for their greedy, upright neighbors and will take a cheap shot if given the opportunity; secondly, it seems reasonable that if given the forum to vent their frustration they will do so without hesitation; and thirdly, there is no better way to make a point than to cause a stink about it. Lastly, and probably the most important point of all, as dear old Uncle Willy would say, "piss on 'em if they can't take a joke!"

With warm regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.

Copyright 2006 Twin Rocks Trading Post

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