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Monday, August 31, 2009

Will SOMEONE Please Answer The Bird!?

I was never a big fan of birds as pets. I attribute this to an unfortunate college roommate who shared a suite of rooms with me and 3 other girls. This girl, who I am ashamed to say I treated very badly in the worst post-high-school I'm-so-cool-and-you're-not way, rebuffing her attempts at friendship, purchased a cockatoo.

It was a beautiful bird.

It also awoke with the dawn, as did this roommate, along with my (room) roommate, both science majors. Science students get up early. Us liberal arts types were more likely to stay up late discussing World Hunger and how to fix it, and then sleep through breakfast.

I attributed my dislike of the bird to the hour it woke me. Six o'clock in the morning is now, after years in the work force, with children and pets, the prime of the morning. Back then, it was unholy.

I formed a dislike for this poor bird, I suspect, in part because of my desire to rebuff his owner. I was too insecure as a first year student away from home to simply accept people for who they were, and accept her puppyish uncool attempts at friendship with an open heart.

It's on that List Of Things I Wish I Could Go Back and Do Over Again.

So for years, based on that experience, I decided birds were noisy, dirty and unpleasant. In fact, this bird was none of those things--he was just a cockatoo and a rather cute, friendly one at that.

Moving from the dormitories to a shared house in our rural college town, I discovered the joy of having a yard and the agony of yard work. I also discovered that birds other than cockatoos get up with the sunrise. One in particular liked to sing up the sun first thing in the morning from the branches of a sapling immediately outside my window. At first, I groaned and buried my head under the pillow...but as the days went by, I noticed something. This bird sang with all his heart. He sang with such energy and joy that I couldn't help but smile, even though he woke me up every morning. I came to expect it, to anticipate his song, and when he went wherever birds go in the winter, I missed his song.

Then, years later, I met another woman who kept finches and canaries. I was entranced by them. They sang. They trilled and sang and the sound made my heart glad. During the Single Years, when I hiked the mountains and coasts of the West, I would often go with my best college chum who herself was a fount of knowledge about birds and their calls. She had an eye and could point out a red-tailed hawk on a fence when we were still a half-mile away. She can tell by looking at the sky if its a hawk, an eagle or a vulture, and taught me how to tell the difference. She recognized the calls of certain birds and told me what they were, whether it was the cry of a golden eagle or the cry of a marsh bird.

I started to enjoy birds. I like to listen to their calls, and watch their antics during mating and their nest-building in the spring.

When we first moved to Jerusalem, one of the first books I bought was a book about birds. I have met the Hoopoo, the bee-eater, the wagtail, the golden-bellied bulbul, and the ubiquitous black-and-tan crows of Jerusalem. I saw a bird at Ramat Rachel that rarely visits Israel, but is known to stray off the Great Flyway down the Rift Valley. I am sometimes humbled by the thought that these avians have been migrating that route probably longer than humans have.

Then we moved here, to the edge of the desert. It's quiet here because we have few trees. It's not like Baka, or Rehavia with their riot of foliage in which birds readily shelter. We have pigeons (two spectacularly beautiful examples of which I think stayed on our roof for a bit, since we heard them cooing up there for a week), and crows, but no birdsong.

Until recently.

It's not exactly bird song. But there is some song amidst the other clamor.

Someone across the street purchased a bird. We've spent weeks trying to figure out which condo the bird lives in, but he is up with his owners with the dawn, and he is happy! He trills the sun up, then starts with the rest of his repetoire. He is some kind of mynah or mocking bird or parrot which mimics human noises perfectly. In the weeks since he's taken up residence, he has broken off his song at times to whistle. He has a collection of various whistles which he has assembled from every dog owner in the area. It must confuse the dogs to hear their owners "whistle" them up and then find out they didn't....

He continually picks up new noises to mimic. A few weeks ago, I couldn't figure out what idiot kept opening and closing his car door. Who would repeatedly hit the electric locking mechanism with its dur-dur-durp crescendo?!

The bird. He now perfectly mimics the neighbor's car door which is electronically locked every night and electronically unlocked every morning....

Recently, because of the extremely warm weather, the windows have been opened to catch the breeze in the late afternoons and evenings. The Husband and I were started to get annoyed that some inconsiderate teen out on the street or in the park was constantly taking calls on his cell phone, and letting it ring and ring and ring...

"...I wish someone would pick up the phone!" I growled. After a few evenings of this, the Husband suddenly started laughing.

"What's so funny? Whoever it is should pick up their phone," I complained, as the ringing went on and on and on.

"It's not a phone," he said, grinning. "It's our neighbor--the bird has learned to mimic a cell phone.'

The next day, the bird rang and rang again. "Someone please answer the bird!" Mike said, only half in jest.

This morning, the bird didn't sing up the dawn. I was plugging away at my computer for an hour before I realized we hadn't heard his morning song. "I wonder if he's okay, " I ventured, a bit concerned.

"His owners probably decided to sleep in, so he's under cover," Mike said nonchalantly.

Sure enough, a short time later, the sunrise song burst full throated from the bird.

I've never even seen this bird. I don't know what he looks like. I don't know what kind of bird he is, but his song makes me glad every single morning, and I listen for him all the time. Every time he sings, he makes me smile. I enjoy his enjoyment of life, and while it seems a little silly to say so, I'm grateful that my neighbors brought him home where I derive some enjoyment from his singing. And even his ringing.


Blogger Batya said...

Lovely post, but I'm still phobic about birds. They can sing all they want, but just don't let them fly near me, or over my head....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 10:04:00 PM GMT+3  
Anonymous Shulamis said...

I can identify with your story. I never liked birds until I purchased one, don't know why. It was a parrot and a funny one too, actually a small cockatoo. He was white, he was loud and he was loyal friend. I miss him so much now, since I could not take him with me to US. He is in good hands though. Great post!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 6:01:00 AM GMT+3  
Blogger Apostle In Exile said...

Stayed at my mom's Saturday night - and yes, that same bird STILL squawks extraordinarily loudly at 6:45 a.m.!!!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 9:06:00 AM GMT+3  

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