December 12, 2016

I fill my bird feeder once a day—okay, Audubon Society? Partial count: four cardinals, over ten tufted titmice, chickadees by the score, two red-bellied woodpeckers, gobs of nuthatches, finches, juncos, two mourning doves, a Carolina wren and the occasional blue jay. But as the cold weather sets in, more and more birds, sparrows mostly, have been dining at my outdoor café, and the feeder is emptied by mid-afternoon.

I’m not made of money (nor puppy dog tails), so if the feeder empties out, that’s tough turkey for the birds—until next morning. I could live with my conscience, so I reasoned, as the birds had patches of woods and bushes with nuts and seeds strewn about for their dining pleasure.

This morning, I got up and looked out the front window. I didn’t have my glasses on, but I could see the empty feeder. I got dressed and walked outside—this time I wore my specs—to retrieve the feeder and . . .

A chorus of jeers rose up around me from on high. I scanned the treetops, and there was an arc of birds lined up along the branches from one end of the house to the other, and they watched me, and they were chirping in tongues, the birds of Babel, and I didn’t need a translator:

“Feed us, you pale son of a bitch faux bird lover but you really don’t care at all do you just put your lips together and blow, Gene, you blow, your liberalness blows we will we will beak you!”

And then the birds pivoted as one and mooned me, all of them, tail to upraised tail. Holy Kellyanne Conway! Reader, I was afraid. My buttocks clenched and my colon sang “Fanfare for the Common Man.”

A murder of curious crows landed on the telephone wires and began to caw-caw-caw: their danger signal in case of hawks or owls. What did they think I was? WHO . . . did they think I was? Who? Who? (Well, I do look a bit owlish, due to countless hours reading the 100 Great Books.)

And then the Carolina wren swooped down to the driveway, picked up a long splinter in its beak, landed on my porch roof, and using the splinter as a baton, began to conduct the massive bird chorus in a tweety rendition of Orff’s ominous “Carmina Barana,” woodpeckers pecking at a hollow log for thunderous tympani. With each, Da-Da-Da-Da, more and more crows landed on the ground and began to advance toward me. Da-Da-Da-Da—STEP, Da-Da-Da-Da—STEP, Da-Da-Da-Da-Da-da-DA—STEP.

Fearing an Alfred Hitchcock eyeball peck-out from his film “The Birds,” I ran for the house. I grabbed the five-pound bag of black oil sunflower seeds, opened the front door and launched the bag. It landed, burst, and dispersed seeds over the yard. And the chorus took flight and gobbled up everything in less than ten minutes.

The bird blanket of many colors broke up into swatches, and birds began to excrete in waltz time. Bum-bum-bum-bum-bum! Shit-shit-shit-shit. And off they flew, leaving the yard covered in white poop-pudding.

Now I sit in my study, tap-tap-tapping this story, a lone crow tap-tap-tapping Morse Code on my window: “Get more bird food, on sale at Walmart, also suet, or we kill your cat,” and palpable fear raging, gushing in my sobbing, throbbing eyes, my cut pecs flexing, and purple prose of Texas spewing word sputum from my brain.

At least I’m okay. The birds are okay.

Until morning.

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: eugenebaldwin.com. 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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