Bird Feed

July 16, 2013

On my walk from Genehouse yesterday at 9:30 morning in the morning, 92 degrees and 95% humidity, I saw the usual snowy and great egrets lined up along Scotch Jimmy Island’s northern shore in the river. And I saw a smaller, same-shape, dirty looking, grey-white bird on the shore behind one of the great egrets. I stopped and watched the show.

The smaller bird mimicked the movements of the great egret in front of it–left, right, forward, backward. It was still and patient. Then the mother egret speared a silverfish, about twice the size of a minnow. It turned 180 degrees and faced the child, which stepped three steps forward, raised its head and opened its beak, and Mom stuffed the silverfish down the infant. The child turned and stepped gingerly out of the water and resumed its pose. None of that feeding frenzy, like baby robins competing for the worm. It had its mother and it knew its food was coming. It was a ritual and a rite of passage.

Oh yes, a Norwegian rat (one of the oldest mammals along with chipmunks), its fur thick and lustrous, ran from the grass cover along the highway, right over the top of my orange running shoes, and disappeared into the steamy, Soybeanian jungle. Had I a child with me, I might have fed it the rat.

Maybe not.


About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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