Birds

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The window in my living room opens out to a wide field that ends in a line of trees. The birds live in the trees and in the mornings they fly out over the field.

There's something about birds.

Indigo Bunting by USFWS Headquarters

Sometimes you see a yellow one or a blue one. Mostly, though, they are shades of white and brown. I watch as two white birds chase each other, loop around, and fly out of my view.

Some people spend hours and days watching birds. I imagine it sharpens their senses. Their eyes learn to pick out flashes of movement in the overwhelming green of the canopy. Their ears learn the distinct song of each bird.

I, however, am content to watch the field from my living room window, and if a bird flies through my view, so be it.

Bunting is what you do in baseball (as I have heard all my life). It is that red, white, and blue half-circle of fabric they put up to play patriotic. It is also a family of birds.

My instinct tells me birds feel like hope and joy and a oneness with nature that I've experienced only a few times. They are also synonymous for my soul.

And once, I wrote about a bird in a story and was shocked at how much the bird, my “character,” moved me. Just now, a yellow bird flew the whole length of my window.

What do birds mean to you?

PRACTICE

Birds can add a touch of detail that lights up your writing with life.

Practice writing about birds. If it would help, go outside with a notebook and a pen and look for them. They're everywhere.

As you describe them, think about what they communicate subconsciously.

Write for fifteen minutes. Post your “bird watching” in the comments.

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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46 Comments

  1. M. Romeo LaFlamme

    I adore birds. I have a feeder on my back deck just outside my dining room window. It attracts blue jays, wrens, cardinals, titmouses, chickadees, and gold finches. Watching them fly in to grab a nibble then fly away is a delight. Sometimes they take a rest on the crook that holds the feeder and spend a few moments primping and preening in the sun. There is something soothing and fulfilling about watching them. I think of their evolutionary orgin and enjoy the notion that I have dinosaurs on my back deck.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Dinosaurs on your deck? What a wild idea.

      Reply
  2. M. Romeo LaFlamme

    I adore birds. I have a feeder on my back deck just outside my dining room window. It attracts blue jays, wrens, cardinals, titmouses, chickadees, and gold finches. Watching them fly in to grab a nibble then fly away is a delight. Sometimes they take a rest on the crook that holds the feeder and spend a few moments primping and preening in the sun. There is something soothing and fulfilling about watching them. I think of their evolutionalry orgin and enjoy the notion that I have dinosaurs on my back deck.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Dinosaurs on your deck? What a wild idea.

      Reply
  3. Jeremy Statton

    I love how birds just do their thing. All day long. Yesterday it was windy and when I left I saw three large birds, likely hawks, who were just playing in the gusts of wind. They hung in the sky with their wings open, nearly motionless, and then suddenly one would dive towards the earth, only to pull back up at the last second and loop around and join his friends again in the wind currents. All of this activity and it seemed effortless. He must have taken 3 flaps with his wings. Beautiful.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Mmm… that sounds beautiful.

      Reply
  4. Jeremy Statton

    I love how birds just do their thing. All day long. Yesterday it was windy and when I left I saw three large birds, likely hawks, who were just playing in the gusts of wind. They hung in the sky with their wings open, nearly motionless, and then suddenly one would dive towards the earth, only to pull back up at the last second and loop around and join his friends again in the wind currents. All of this activity and it seemed effortless. He must have taken 3 flaps with his wings. Beautiful.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Mmm… that sounds beautiful.

      Reply
  5. Suzie300

    Joe! Your blog is great. I’m going to start doing the exercises and posting what I write. Sooo here’s the one from today!

    It’s about 10:30am  and I’m sitting at a picnic table on Gainesville college’s campus looking for birds. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with birds for some time now. They annoy me at 7am and at the beach, but they are beautiful to watch. 

    In a way, I feel as though I can identify with birds. Baby birds hatch and stay in the nest for a while getting loved on and fed by mom. Then when she feels they are ready, she pushes them out of the nest so they can learn to fly. Some birds begin flying right away while others take a little while to adjust to the wind, altitude, being without mom, etc. I feel like one of those birds that struggles to fly. I’ve taken a few nose dives at the ground and managed to not break my neck when I crash. I’m starting to feel the wind blow a little bit stronger, which makes me feel like it’s time for me to take a swan dive out of the nest again. I’m scared and I’m anxious but it’s about time I step, or rather, fall into the world. 

    I go to just about every home Auburn football game. Auburn has a big bird rehabilitation center at the university and every home game they have one of the eagles, either the golden eagle or the bald eagle, fly around the field to pump up the fans and the players. That’s always my favorite part of the game. The raw beauty and power of raptors is intense. These birds soar like it’s the easiest thing on the planet. Maybe that’s why as humans we absolutely had to figure out how to fly. It gives you a sense of freedom.

    The eagles that fly  at Auburn represent numerous things to me- strength, speed, beauty, freedom, and grace to name a few. It amazes me to see these huge birds flying among 86,000+ people with wingspans of six feet, three inch talons and a sharp beak that could seriously injure a person and yet they soar around, spot the dead rat their handler is flinging around and dive to catch it, all to the screaming of the thousands of fans. The fans may not realize it, but the eagles have the freedom to fly up and out of the stadium at any time. 

    If the eagles fly off, they probably won’t return. Why can’t I be less like a baby bird and more like an eagle?

    Reply
    • Susanna Loosier

      It’s suzie by the way haha. Hope this wasn’t too long.

      Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Hey Suzie! Thank you so much for practicing. You’re great.

      My favorite paragraphs are the last three, especially the parts where you describe the eagle soaring over the football stadium. I would have loved to see more about what you were seeing as you sat at that picnic table bench (weren’t you cold?).

      Reply
  6. Suzie300

    Joe! Your blog is great. I’m going to start doing the exercises and posting what I write. Sooo here’s the one from today!

    It’s about 10:30am  and I’m sitting at a picnic table on Gainesville college’s campus looking for birds. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with birds for some time now. They annoy me at 7am and at the beach, but they are beautiful to watch. 

    In a way, I feel as though I can identify with birds. Baby birds hatch and stay in the nest for a while getting loved on and fed by mom. Then when she feels they are ready, she pushes them out of the nest so they can learn to fly. Some birds begin flying right away while others take a little while to adjust to the wind, altitude, being without mom, etc. I feel like one of those birds that struggles to fly. I’ve taken a few nose dives at the ground and managed to not break my neck when I crash. I’m starting to feel the wind blow a little bit stronger, which makes me feel like it’s time for me to take a swan dive out of the nest again. I’m scared and I’m anxious but it’s about time I step, or rather, fall into the world. 

    I go to just about every home Auburn football game. Auburn has a big bird rehabilitation center at the university and every home game they have one of the eagles, either the golden eagle or the bald eagle, fly around the field to pump up the fans and the players. That’s always my favorite part of the game. The raw beauty and power of raptors is intense. These birds soar like it’s the easiest thing on the planet. Maybe that’s why as humans we absolutely had to figure out how to fly. It gives you a sense of freedom.

    The eagles that fly  at Auburn represent numerous things to me- strength, speed, beauty, freedom, and grace to name a few. It amazes me to see these huge birds flying among 86,000+ people with wingspans of six feet, three inch talons and a sharp beak that could seriously injure a person and yet they soar around, spot the dead rat their handler is flinging around and dive to catch it, all to the screaming of the thousands of fans. The fans may not realize it, but the eagles have the freedom to fly up and out of the stadium at any time. 

    If the eagles fly off, they probably won’t return. Why can’t I be less like a baby bird and more like an eagle?

    Reply
    • Susanna Loosier

      It’s suzie by the way haha. Hope this wasn’t too long.

      Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Hey Suzie! Thank you so much for practicing. You’re great.

      My favorite paragraphs are the last three, especially the parts where you describe the eagle soaring over the football stadium. I would have loved to see more about what you were seeing as you sat at that picnic table bench (weren’t you cold?).

      Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Hey Suzie! Thank you so much for practicing. You’re great.

      My favorite paragraphs are the last three, especially the parts where you describe the eagle soaring over the football stadium. I would have loved to see more about what you were seeing as you sat at that picnic table bench (weren’t you cold?).

      Reply
  7. Diana trautwein

    It was our last night in San Antonio and we were enjoying a delicious dinner on the patio of our hotel, right on the river in the middle of the city. It was hot. Now that’s an understatement. It was over 100 degrees at 5:30 in the evening. But we convinced the waiter to leave the door open so that the AC blew out and around us as we enjoyed the evening light by the water.

    There were about a dozen mallard ducks paddling in the water just across the pathway from us, doing their duck thing. Diving and ruffling the water off their feathers, pecking at each other, occasionally waddling up onto the shore.

    All of a sudden, a large gray flying creature whooshed down to the edge of the dirt, hovering over the river, dipping his head in for a drink every so often. As he rose back to a sitting position, I whispered to my husband, “I think that’s an owl. Can I possibly be right?” Owls aren’t known for being out and about before nightfall. Owls aren’t known for sitting on the ground. Owls aren’t known for hanging out with ducks.

    But, sure enough, it was an owl.

    And the ducks were alarmed, quickly moving away from where this bird of prey was getting his evening libation. I had my camera, but not my big lens, so I zeroed in as much as I could with the wide angle, and snapped off four shots, one of which showed him with his big, owl face looking at the camera, while his body faced squarely in the opposite direction. Owls have always fascinated me with their swivel like ability to move their heads. And, of course, their ability to grind up and regurgitate small living creatures, leaving a ‘tell’ of white debris in their wake.

    But this owl was not interested in capturing dinner. I think maybe he was hot – and he needed a drink. He hung around for a good 15 minutes, flying up into a tree across the river where we could no longer see him. But lots of other people did! Over the course of those minutes, a small crowd of ‘fans’ gathered, snapping away with their cell phones. Our surprise visitor had created a small sensation along the riverwalk. And we enjoyed getting a glimpse.

    (You can catch your own glimpse of this amazing creature here (You’ll need to scroll to the bottom of the post for this picture: http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com/2011/09/shifting-gearsmoving-towards-retreat.html)

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I love this story. I remember reading about it on your blog a little while ago. Your writing style is good because I can see it, I can see the river and the ducks and the patio and the owl in the tree. I’m sure your writing voice sounds just like you telling a story over dinner.

      Reply
  8. Diana trautwein

    It was our last night in San Antonio and we were enjoying a delicious dinner on the patio of our hotel, right on the river in the middle of the city. It was hot. Now that’s an understatement. It was over 100 degrees at 5:30 in the evening. But we convinced the waiter to leave the door open so that the AC blew out and around us as we enjoyed the evening light by the water.

    There were about a dozen mallard ducks paddling in the water just across the pathway from us, doing their duck thing. Diving and ruffling the water off their feathers, pecking at each other, occasionally waddling up onto the shore.

    All of a sudden, a large gray flying creature whooshed down to the edge of the dirt, hovering over the river, dipping his head in for a drink every so often. As he rose back to a sitting position, I whispered to my husband, “I think that’s an owl. Can I possibly be right?” Owls aren’t known for being out and about before nightfall. Owls aren’t known for sitting on the ground. Owls aren’t known for hanging out with ducks.

    But, sure enough, it was an owl.

    And the ducks were alarmed, quickly moving away from where this bird of prey was getting his evening libation. I had my camera, but not my big lens, so I zeroed in as much as I could with the wide angle, and snapped off four shots, one of which showed him with his big, owl face looking at the camera, while his body faced squarely in the opposite direction. Owls have always fascinated me with their swivel like ability to move their heads. And, of course, their ability to grind up and regurgitate small living creatures, leaving a ‘tell’ of white debris in their wake.

    But this owl was not interested in capturing dinner. I think maybe he was hot – and he needed a drink. He hung around for a good 15 minutes, flying up into a tree across the river where we could no longer see him. But lots of other people did! Over the course of those minutes, a small crowd of ‘fans’ gathered, snapping away with their cell phones. Our surprise visitor had created a small sensation along the riverwalk. And we enjoyed getting a glimpse.

    (You can catch your own glimpse of this amazing creature here (You’ll need to scroll to the bottom of the post for this picture: http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com/2011/09/shifting-gearsmoving-towards-retreat.html)

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I love this story. I remember reading about it on your blog a little while ago. Your writing style is good because I can see it, I can see the river and the ducks and the patio and the owl in the tree. I’m sure your writing voice sounds just like you telling a story over dinner.

      Reply
  9. oddznns

    This is a quick bird one … while riding home on the commuter train last week.

    A flash of bright
    Yellow
    Cuts the vertical of the rain

    Lightning

    An oriole
    Singing
    To the percussion of the rain

    Technical fault three minute stop
    Interlude on the six o’clock train

    Through three degrees of separation – windowpane, wind, wheels clattering

    The even song
    Whistling
    Onward the train through monsoon rain

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      This is good. I don’t really know if you’re talking about a bird that looks like lightning, or if the lightning allowed you to see the bird, or if the lightning reminded you of a bird. And that might be okay.

      This poem works as an interesting metaphor, something beautiful in the midst of a day filled with rain and delays on the train, beauty in the middle of darkness. I like it.

      Were you intentionally trying to rhyme the last line of the longer stanzas? I’m not sure if you need it. Rhyme is really hard to use in modern poetry. Most of the time it makes the poem look amateur and hokey. I don’t think your poem is hokey, but you have to be careful.

      Reply
    • oddznns

      Thanx for the comment. Not trying to rhyme the longer stanza’s … just came out that way… but you’re right. They need some work. Anyway, it was just a quick one. I stick them in a draft box and re-polish them when I’m stuck with the novel.

      Reply
      • Joe Bunting

        It’s funny how these things happen. You posted a revised version on your blog right?

        Reply
  10. oddznns

    This is a quick bird one … while riding home on the commuter train last week.

    A flash of bright
    Yellow
    Cuts the vertical of the rain

    Lightning

    An oriole
    Singing
    To the percussion of the rain

    Technical fault three minute stop
    Interlude on the six o’clock train

    Through three degrees of separation – windowpane, wind, wheels clattering

    The even song
    Whistling
    Onward the train through monsoon rain

    Reply
  11. oddznns

    This is a quick bird one … while riding home on the commuter train last week.

    A flash of bright
    Yellow
    Cuts the vertical of the rain

    Lightning

    An oriole
    Singing
    To the percussion of the rain

    Technical fault three minute stop
    Interlude on the six o’clock train

    Through three degrees of separation – windowpane, wind, wheels clattering

    The even song
    Whistling
    Onward the train through monsoon rain

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      This is good. I don’t really know if you’re talking about a bird that looks like lightning, or if the lightning allowed you to see the bird, or if the lightning reminded you of a bird. And that might be okay.

      This poem works as an interesting metaphor, something beautiful in the midst of a day filled with rain and delays on the train, beauty in the middle of darkness. I like it.

      Were you intentionally trying to rhyme the last line of the longer stanzas? I’m not sure if you need it. Rhyme is really hard to use in modern poetry. Most of the time it makes the poem look amateur and hokey. I don’t think your poem is hokey, but you have to be careful.

      Reply
    • oddznns

      Thanx for the comment. Not trying to rhyme the longer stanza’s … just came out that way… but you’re right. They need some work. Anyway, it was just a quick one. I stick them in a draft box and re-polish them when I’m stuck with the novel.

      Reply
      • Joe Bunting

        It’s funny how these things happen. You posted a revised version on your blog right?

        Reply
  12. Chris T.

    Frolicking through nature
    I spot a passerby
    A tiny red fox,
    cunning and sly.

    Climbing the rocks
    a soft eagles cry
    he’s running away…

    Power
    terror…

    beauty…

    Goodbye Mr.Fox
    A valiant fight
    But today
    You lose to this supreme, mighty bird of prey.

    Reply
    • Chris T.

      I meant to put an extra line between ” a valiant fight” and “but today,” because, well, it just sounds a little awkward at the end like that.

      Reply
    • Jeanne

      I loved this! This was an amazing poem.

      Reply
  13. Chris T.

    Frolicking through nature
    I spot a passerby
    A tiny red fox,
    cunning and sly.

    Climbing the rocks
    a soft eagles cry
    he’s running away…

    Power
    terror…

    beauty…

    Goodbye Mr.Fox
    A valiant fight
    But today
    You lose to this supreme, mighty bird of prey.

    Reply
    • Chris T.

      I meant to put an extra line between ” a valiant fight” and “but today,” because, well, it just sounds a little awkward at the end like that.

      Reply
  14. debbi

    I loved this exercise because the book I have coming out in November is called, “In Everything, Birds.” It contains 75 poems that some how, some way have birds in them, maybe only 6 times as the actual theme.

    Reply
  15. Sandra D

    the birds crept in twilight padding on the wet grass.

    I lay with my head on the concrete staring at them.

    The red robins were my favorite because they always seemed to turn toward me and stare. Something about being stared at with their beedy eyes, while their chests heaved up and down. But in that time they would sometimes look for a minute or more, just staring. Sometimes it hopped closer to me.

    Eventually it would turn away, pounding its beak into the clay soil and ripping out grass til its prey wiggled wildly in its beak. Then it’d jump then let out its wings and flap them as it would go up and up till it swooped into a thick tree where it disappeared.

    I see other birds too sometimes. But they never look at me. Just stay for their breakfast bugs and then off to the tree to chit chat with their friends across the block.

    Now there are no birds in the yard. But there is a whipering chatter, quiet but fervent, like whispers during church. Just the empty grass, and the empty plants, and empty trees. Not even the bees are up to make their entrance. The sky is a chilly blue. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to watching for these birds who could care less about me. But here I am. Listening to their singing. They have started singing. They are so excited. They can feel the rush of dawn coming. They know the time for their eggs to hatch is coming. And soon they will have have helpless little babies clinging to their nests, which they will feed, and they will love. That is nature. Everyone loves their babies.

    Their singing, like small hymnals, like children running. I want to feel excited too, I want to sing out just because I am alive and sun is coming. I am almost annoyed to be witnessing their divine faith.

    Being a frail bird is accepting death can snatch you up any night, so morning is a celebration always. I poke my finger into the dirt, slowly pull a blade of grass from out the dirt. Its long root lay flat in my hand. I toss it aside, it lay lost forgotten to god as it will dry and wither away.

    My plants will appreciate that though, kill a few blades of grass, make some more room for their roots to flourish.

    http://writeitonmywall.wordpress.com/

    Reply
    • Kiki Stamatiou

      Beautiful piece of prose. Great descriptions and use of language. There is so much beautiful color within this piece. The flow is rather smooth. As I was reading this, I felt like I was a participant in the experience. I like the way you take your readers on a beautiful, captivating journey through the use of the spoken word. A lovely piece of writing all around.

      Reply
  16. Tapiocaqueen

    “Hey Kristi, do you want to go outside now?” I say.
    Of course, she doesn’t reply. How could she? She has cerebral palsy and has had it ever since she was born nine years ago. Of course, she understands us, my husband Max, our youngest, Daphne, who’s seven, and I, but we can only understand her through vain attempts to ask her ‘yes blink once’ and ‘no blink twice’ questions repeatedly until we get what she wants to say.
    She blinks twice. (No)
    “Come on Kristi, the weather’s perfect!” I say.
    “Yeah, come ON Kristi!” asks Daphne.
    Kristi blinks twice, her grey eyes (she gets those from Max) dull and uninterested.
    “Well, I don’t care whether you want to or not, but you are going to go outside and get a breath of fresh air for once, instead of being cooped up inside all the time!” I say determined.
    Kristi blinks once but stares at me icily, which is her way rolling her eyes and saying “Fine.”
    I push her wheelchair with Daphne chattering about her day happily and carefully roll it down the steps of our porch. We walk like this until we reach the park. Usually it’s filled with happy toddlers and fussy moms, but today the new amusement park is open, and we didn’t want to make Kristi feel bad because she can’t go on any rides, so we decided to stay home. We sit on the grass for a little while in silence until Daphne pulls my arm excitedly.
    “Look Mommy!” she says, cheeks flushed red with delight, “It’s a canary!”

    I turned my head to Daphne’s chubby finger and there it was, a canary, hopping closer and closer to us, cocking its head curiously. I look at Kristi as she sits, her eyes, shining, focused on the slowly advancing bird.
    “Oh Mommy, can we feed it?” Daphne asks, in a, I admit, slightly whiny tone.
    “Oh dang,” I mutter, careful to omit any swear words teachers might later ask in a condescending tone where Daphne could have learned it because she certainly didn’t learn it at home, right? “I forgot to bring food, I’m sorry sweetie.”
    “Aw man,” Daphne sighs, and I can see the disappointment on Kristi’s face. It seems the canary does too, and as its beady eyes scan Kristi’s face, it hops forward and tilts its head almost sympathetically. Then, suddenly, the canary flutters suddenly upward towards Kristi’s hand, which is resting on the arm of her chair.
    We all hold our breaths, and Kristi stays so still she doesn’t even blink. Then the canary starts hopping around Kristi’s wheelchair, her arms, and on her head. It then promptly flies away, but not before it delivers a mini white slimy bomb on my head, which sends Daphne rolling on the floor and Kristi cracking the smallest smile.
    But as I watch the canary fly away, I’m not mad, but thankful that it was kind enough to make my Kristi’s day.

    *please comment on my story and how to make it better
    **P.S. this is not a true story (well, maybe it is for someone else)

    Reply
  17. Kiki Stamatiou

    Prompt #9: Birds Usually Gather Where Lots Of People Are Around
    By Kiki Stamatiou a. k. a. Joanna Maharis

    Birds are generally found in a group where there are lots of people around, such as a parking lot. On many occasions when I go to one of my local Walmart stores with my aunt, and my grandmother, we see lots of birds near our or hovering nearby. Generally, they are looking for food.

    We often saw many of the birds when we used to go to fast food places years ago. I remember sitting in our car in the parking lot of the fast food restaurant, and my aunt would toss out some French fries onto the ground near her car.

    Several little birds swarmed around aiming to get even a piece of the French fries.

    My aunt got out of our car, walked around in the parking lot, scattering the pieces of French fries to be sure many of the birds could enjoy them, instead of having them fight over the fries.

    Upon leaving the parking lot of the fast food place, we stopped off at one of our local Walmarts where there were other birds nearby. We had some French fries left, so my aunt tossed them out to the birds who swarmed around them and nibbled on them.

    I enjoy watching the little sparrows prance about when they’d walk. I remember remarking to my aunt how cute I thought they were. I got out of the car, and took pictures of them with my cell phone. My aunt used her Smart phone to take pictures of the birds.

    Birds are such gentle little creatures. I couldn’t help but fall in love with them. I’ve always loved birds since I was a small child.

    During my high school and college years, my family had a parrot my dad named Mr. Alex. We taught it to speak Greek, in addition to speaking English. I taught it some
    Spanish, because I was studying the language during my junior and senior years of high school. Mr. Alex was a nice form of company. He enjoyed listening to music from our stereo, while I helped my mother with the housework. In particular, he liked the music of New Kids On The Block.

    We often placed his cage in our living room. He sat on top of it when we’d let him out from time to time. He watched television with us. Mr. Alex loved to watch music concerts, especially when it came to watching New Kids On The Block perform. He even learned the words to their songs and would sing along with them.

    Whenever my dad would talk on the phone, Mr. Alex would imitate him. My dad talked fast in his manner of speech. Our parrot learned to do the same through imitating him.

    He was such a sweet little bird, even though he’d wake up early in the mornings whenever I had a day off from work, and he’d kick his cage. In doing so, he woke me up with all the noise he was making. I told him if he didn’t stop kicking the cage and start behaving himself, I’d take away his music privileges. All and all, I’ll always remember the special times we had together.

    When my parents sold our house and moved down to Florida, my brother sold Mr. Alex to a pet shop to make sure he’d get a good home. I couldn’t take the bird with me, because I was staying at the college dormitories when attending college. Pets weren’t allowed other than fish. My brother and other relatives weren’t able to take him either, because they were working, and didn’t want to be woken up at night by him.

    © Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2015

    Reply
  18. kwjordy

    He looks down on us in the garden. Surely we are not the target. But something has caught his attention and he has swooped in to check out the ground to see if there is something down here he wants. It is usually a zarigueya, or opossum, or sometimes a dead rat. It might even be an iguana, but I think I would have seen a dead iguana, even in the neighbor’s yard. And the aroma of a rotting iguana is not one you can miss. Still, if a turkey vulture is in your tree, you can bet there is something dead on the ground.

    This particular bird sits very still, barely moving but for his head, slowly perusing, searching. His great gray talons spread wide and grasp the branch; you clearly would not want those talons grasping for you. In fact, the mere presence of a turkey vulture, while visually awesome, makes you check your position, making certain there is a close retreat should the need arise.

    His steely body curves upward to a large, proud chest and continues to the thick neck and head that is, frankly, a bit too small. The coal-black feathers gather neatly against his back; when he is in flight you wonder how he folds those long wings into such a compact space.

    Sitting in the tree above my garden, he casts a pallor that makes even the flamboyanes lose some of their fiery red color. There is not a cat to be seen, and I feel I should retreat, as well. But I cannot; I am drawn to the bird’s god-like magnificence. I don’t know if any civilization has used the turkey vulture as a great spiritual symbol, but it would be entirely appropriate to elevate the bird to one of respect and reverence.

    I attempt to snap a photo or two, but the photos are inevitably unsatisfying. Turkey Vultures land with their backs to the sun so as not to allow the bright rays to interfere with their sight, so photos are backlit and the subject is dark. Clever. I have many photos of turkey vultures, but all of them unsatisfying.

    But then, I’m not certain turkey vultures were put on Earth for my gratification.

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  19. grantburkhardt

    I don’t see any birds, but from my chair in front of the open window I hear three of them. The first one is conversing with pauses between words. Wae, wae, wae, waewae, wae. It’s the one farthest away. I have to push my ear through the house to hear it. The fresh, cool air is propelling his sound into my home. I’m sure I’ve heard this bird or its kin before.

    The second one is in this tree somewhere. The tree is I think some kind of oak and is healthy and changing. Its blooms hug it near its base more firmly than at the top. It’s the biggest thing in a yard full of bushes and shrubs. The bird, hidden in this sea of green leaves somewhere, is chirping a standard song where each note extends for minutes unless you lean in to really hear the parts where she changes her tune as she inhales and exhales. heehooheehooheehooheehooheehooheehooheehooheehooheehoo.

    Somewhere in the middle there is a third crying out, making a noise that sounds like the radiation that comes from the sun in a desert. It wails for ten or twelve seconds at a time before it stops. If it were a visible wave it would be a bell – starting soft, getting loudest in the middle, falling back into silence. aaaeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeaaa. It reminds me only of heat. It’s the sound I’d expect to hear if I pressed my face to the pavement of a highway in the summer. It is a new cup of coffee, set aside for a moment or two. It’s the pool of grease on the center of the pizza slice and the dark backseat of a parked car after a wedding. Every few minutes a few of those steaming sounds overlap, like there’s a second or third one making the same hot sound, but I know it’s a single bird. He doesn’t always stop to do other things before starting again.

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  20. Nadia

    The dove cooed softly to the other doves, eating the many different seeds I had put in the bird feeder this morning. I watched as they gathered around the food, almost in a civilized manner, taking turns eating the stale seeds. The fluttered their white feathers, hopping around and looking every now and then for any signs of danger. I held very still, watching them from the window. Suddenly, a noisy cardinal came swooping down towards the bird feeder, spooking the doves a bit. The cardinal, and a few others of its kind, started colonizing the food. The doves quickly moved away, letting the scary red birds eat. These birds, I noticed, were a lot different from the doves. They pecked at each other, eager to eat their food. A lot of times, they would quickly snap their heads around, looking for every other bird that wanted their food. I thought the doves were much better.

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  21. Lele Lele

    Stretching her arms, she yawned. A bird dropped by her right on the benched. She shoo’ed it away.

    “What a fine morning,” she said.

    Her eyes dropped and her head started falling down. A bird perched on her head and she jerked right up.

    “Shoo.” Her hand waved it away. It titled it’s tiny little head at her. “Shoo, you stupid bird, shoo.”

    She yawned again. The bird flew away.

    The fresh wind blew again and she found her eyes started closing again. She rested her head on the soft cradle of the bench. The birds were chirping. She breathed slowly and deep.

    Peace.

    One deep inhale. One deep exhale.
    One deep inhale. Hold. One deep exhale. Hold.

    A bird fluttered by her hands. She continued breathing. The bird danced towards her shoulders. Exhale.

    She heard more flutters of wings. Inhale. Louder chirps. The bird on her hand stopped moving. It scratched softly on her skin. A small smile appeared on her mouth.

    “~Ah~.”

    Then it pecked at her.

    Her eyes shot wide opened. She glared at the bird. Then her eyes raised up as she saw the school of birds surrounding her. They were bobbing their tiny little heads and chirping.

    “The fu-”

    She waved her hands around them. They didn’t move.

    “Hell?” she said.

    The little bird on her arms scratched her again. A sigh escaped her lips.

    “That’s nice,” she said.

    The birds started flying away. All that’s left was the bird perched on her hands and about 4 or 5 slowly closing in on her.

    She shoved her hands inside her pockets. She found dry stale crackers. She grinned at the birds.

    “Okay you dumb birds,” she said as she cracked the crackers in tiny little pieces. She threw the food on the ground. “Here you go!”

    The birds didn’t move.

    “Eh?”

    They went closer and she started to look like like kind of feathered weido. She scratched her head.

    “What?”

    A cup of steaming coffee appeared before her face.

    “Didn’t know you were into Disney stuff,” he said.

    She took it and took a sip. “You’re late Jon.”

    “Good morning to you too,” he said.

    She blinked. She looked around. The birds were already gone.

    She frowned. “This coffee stinks.”

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  22. Will

    Seagulls surround my house. That’s logical, given that I live by the seaside. Yet the profusion of these pseudo-pigeons of the port is more that I could have expected when I moved here.

    Driving around the corner, I glimpse a whole flock of seagulls resting on a huge garbage container. I can barely see what’s underneath, for it’s swamped in white and grey feathers. For all the shrieking and flapping those birds make, they are remarkably cool when I drive by. A few of them give me the eye. They’re not afraid of humans; nobody comes to slaughter them; they feed on the overflowing rubbish bins and the discarded remains of fast-food meals. The trail of faeces they leave behind is rivalled only by pigeons’. They are the classic residents of the city, as timeless as the craggy cliffs and the waves.

    It’s not unusual for a gull to sit on window sills, engaging in staring contests with humans and their pets. The braver ones fly through open windows, daring to question what lies inside; they get chased out by frightened housewives and immensely loyal cats.

    A handful of other species make themselves comfortable in the gulls’ wake. Tiny brown and grey ones picking at invisible crumbs; the occasional blackbird; the ever-present pigeon, who feasts on everything; sparrows which love to hop around instead of fly.

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  23. bah

    it twaddled on its flimsy feet, looking for its next location as it sat upon the twig of an olive tree. its tail looped around its body and began chirping in a burst of excitement. the evening sun was blocked by a single ball of cloud, there was a gentle breeze which carried with it dry autumn leaves. the bird had already disappeared and it felt empty,

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  24. Noname

    Birds of a feather flock together.

    Thats the idiom that comes to mind as I watched the pidgeons gathered on the ground looking for seeds in the grass.

    Those wild birds. They risk danger and captivity by coming near humans and for what? For the sake of food.

    I cant decide whether thats brave or just stupid.

    I smile to myself, remembering a song about about poisoning the pidgeons in the park. I found its dark humor hilarious and it was a well written song.

    Pidgeons are so weird, I thought as I watched them take flight when I came a little too close to them. How do they sync their movements so well together. Do they take choreograhy lessons?

    I laugh at the idea of birds taking dance lessons from humans. Most likely it was the other way around and humans learned a thing or two about dancing from the pidgeons instead. With their little swaggering bodies, they always looked ready to throw it down and have a dance fight.

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  25. Vicki Baldwin

    Birds have a life of their own. They do not act the same way that people act. The birds rest in the green trees and chirp with each other. As they fly they slap their wings and dive down to the ground below then. Once on the ground they search for bugs, worms and just grass to eat. They search for sticks and once located they grab it and fly into the tree where they have staredt building a nest. Their home will have eggs and soon the eggs will crack and little baby birds craw out of the egg shell and grow up to fly away like their parents to repeat the lives of their parents.

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