Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Flocking


It was pointed out to me once (okay, more than once) that I speak in extremes. I couch my likes and dislikes in hyperbolic caricatures - "The West Side is TOTALLY the best side", "What kind of soul-less asshole votes against that?" "Who the fuck doesn't like baklava?"

Well, first of all, probably people with nut allergies. I guess. 

One of these statements I've been making a lot lately is "I hate birds".
That isn't strictly true. Like most alien non-mammalian species, I have a large amount of respect for birds as creatures. Their bodies are complicated and delicate, miracles of engineering. They understand secrets of magnetism, navigation, and gravity that I will never comprehend. But they are scary. They don't have boobs. They don't have the same affinity for affectionate nuzzling. I don't think their brains manufacture the same chemicals needed to produce empathy, because they don't carry their young inside of them (I have zero scientific knowledge to back that up).  And if they were bigger than us, which I'm halfway convinced somewhere down deep in their cells they remember being, they would kill us all indiscriminately.

Birds are like spiders - I think they are awesome as long as they stay out of my bedroom and my bathroom. And don't try to touch me.



In my defense, let's look at these disturbing facts I read about seagulls just now on wikipedia. 

1. "Gulls have prophylactic unhinging jaws which allow them to consume large prey."

2. "many gull colonies display mobbing behaviour, attacking and harassing would-be predators and other intruders."

3. "Certain species (e.g. the Herring Gull) have exhibited tool use behaviour, using pieces of bread as bait with which to catch goldfish, for example"

4. "Others rely on kleptoparasitism to get their food." (I'm going to start labeling the girls who get guys to buy their friends drinks and therefore drinks for them too as Kleptoparasites.)

5.  "Gulls have been observed preying on live whales, landing on the whale as it surfaces to peck out pieces of flesh."



On Monday, Faith and I went out to throw food at various groups of animals around town. One of those stops was Greenfield Lake, which apparently has alligators, but also paddleboats. The two seem mutually exclusive, but sure, whatever Wilmington. 
And of course, Greenfield Lake, being the "metropark" downtown is also where a lot of homeless people sleep. So, I don't know, alligators and homeless people - whole new conundrum of homelessness I hadn't considered. 

There are huge amounts of birds down here this time of year. That makes sense, migration patterns and all. I don't know if these geese were yankees or good ol' boys, because like both of those maligned populations, geese don't really migrate as much as they used to. They mostly stay where the food is. At least, that's what I learned from the Tri-C campus back home. 

The minute Faith started throwing crackers into the water, the geese and the seagulls all came flocking. The geese were calmer, more sedate. The seagulls were monsters, as gulls usually are. We played the game where we tried to throw the crackers closer to the geese so they could get them first. One particularly slow goose with a white face couldn't react quick enough, and, finally tired of being swarmed by seagulls, swam off. It's the only time I've seen a goose give up. So we followed him and before the swarm figured it out, managed to get him a few. Cause if we're going to corrupt ecosystems, we're going to corrupt them entirely, goddamnit. 

We threw crackers up above the water, and the gulls caught them mid air. 

As we started to walk away, the geese proved themselves the most intrepid of urban scavengers, and followed us. Got out of the water, onto the sidewalk, and walked after us. It was, as every encounter with geese turns out, mildly terrifying. We walked a little faster, and a little farther away from the water. When we walked back later in their direction, they remembered us, and started to come forward. 

It does lend poignancy to the Ugly Duckling story - because birds are the worst bullies. No courtesy, none at all. Like they are blackout drunk all the time. 

Alternate conclusion: We were nice to the geese, but made the gulls work for it. The gulls let us alone in the end, the geese did not. 


2 comments:

  1. If Wikipedia freaked you out, don't see the film The Birds. Creepy!

    ReplyDelete

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