Bird brain

For over 20 years, i was part of a close-knit technical community.  Seeing the same faces at meeting after meeting, conference after conference, friendships (as well as a few adversarial relationships) formed.  

Attending a round of drunken debauchery workshop in New Orleans a few years back, my pod of Dawg Boyz was doing our very best to support the local bar-based economy. 

Two colleagues, Charles and Greg, were avid bird watchers, and trying their best to call it a night to allow an early start to their birding adventure the next morning. Being one of the more emotionally mature folks at the table, i taunted them for being big pussies and wimping out.  

Greg:  But we’re going to be getting up at 4:00 am!  We can’t stay for another round.

daisyfae:  Aw, c’mon, you big stinkin’ baby.  You’re acting like a girl!  

Charles:  You don’t understand – this is quite serious business, and we need our sleep.

daisyfae:  Right.  Looking at birds is extraordinarily taxing.  How hard can it be?

Invariably they stayed a little longer – but only after i took the bait, and agreed to join them in the hotel lobby at 4:30 am to get schooled in the fine art of birding. And i did.

As it turns out, much of the ‘early’ was necessary to support their ritualistic search for coffee and donuts prior to the actual bird watching.  The drive to Lake Pontchartrain took another 45 minutes. 

i was still drunk from the night before napping in the back seat, while they drank their coffee and gnawed on donuts.   We entered the wildlife area, and i perked up a bit, attempting to pay attention and not welch on the bet. 

Parking and wandering down a few paths, we sat quietly and waited.  Charles kept making this annoying “pishing” sound – some sort of bird call.  Eventually, as the sun was just rising, they got quietly excited, looking here and there through binoculars.

Charles:  Pretty sure that’s a juvenile Wooble Nibbler*.  Can you see the tail markings?

Greg:  No, but it looks to me like a female Amber Bock*.

They tried to teach me.  i tried to listen and learn.  But it just wasn’t my bag…

As we were driving back, they continued to try to explain the joy they found in “collecting” birds.

daisyfae:  But you’re not really “collecting” them.  You’re just looking at the bits and parts of the bird and identifying it.  i don’t get it.  In my world, it ain’t collecting unless you bag ‘em and tag ‘em, then either put a carcass in the freezer or hang it on the wall!

It was pretty clear that this would be my first, and last, bird watching venture with them.  And that was fine with everyone in the rental car. 

Passing an old shed along the one-lane road, i nearly jumped out of the window.

daisyfae:  Hey, stop the car!  Did you see that?  Back in the weeds next to that garage!

Charles mashed the brakes, and i rolled down the window, squinting in the morning light.

daisyfae:  There it is!  Looks like an old flat-fender Willys Jeep!  Back up so i can see the grill and doors – need to figure out if it was a military or civvie… Jesus, i don’t think i’ve ever seen one un-restored in the wild!

* not actual birds, of course, but i obviously was paying no attention at this point.  The buzz was wearing off, and the hangover settling in, and i was thinking about my coffee still sitting in the cup holder back in the car…

38 thoughts on “Bird brain

  1. This is why I love blogging.

    Dad actually owned a Willys Jeep, 1942 model. It was a piece of crap, but it was till neat.

    As an an adutl professional I spent a great deal of time in the plant where the actual original Willys Jeeps were made in Toledo. It was a massive factory and its place in history was not lost on me. I had time to roam around that big old factory and look around. It was fantastic and an experience that I will never get.

    Thanks for sharing this. Great story.

    • oh, glorious day! i’ve got an ’83 CJ-7, found in a farmers field in ’96. frame off restoration with a friend doing the heavy mechanical work. inline 6, bored out 0.030 over, with a high torque cam. T-5 (original) tranny. fiberglass tub gives it a body lift, and i’ve got 30″ tires on it.

      i have informed my children to start diggin’ a hole, because i shall be buried in it! need to tackle the seat/console replacement next season (maybe this winter). with my dog in it? i am whole.

      would have LOVED that tour. i lust for a CJ-8, or perhaps one of the old Willys, but i lack the skills, and tools, to do the restoration… as well as garage space…

    • your little sister is a sicilian hillbilly, with a potty mouth, committment issues and a jeep fetish? cool (?)…

      (you really did come from a trailer park, didn’t you?)

      • Well, not Sicilian, but Irish/English & Hungarian (now *that’s* quite a blend, isn’t it?) and the fetish is more toward Ford’s, but otherwise……

        Being as we didn’t have the American version of the trailer park when we grew up, I don’t think so, but………ahhhh, *epiphany*: The “trailer park” is a state of mind, isn’t it? In that case, kind of.

  2. Twitchers in their blessed bincoluared winged doofusness can also see/hear the DUSK chorus as well as the DAWN chorus. Birds talk and feed at sundown as well as sun-up. My cat Jazzy is an avid bird-watcher, mind.

    • oh, doing this at dusk seems FAR more civilized. you could even “drink and bird”? i could almost deal with that… right down to the part where you throw beer cans in the bushes to scare the little bastards out!

    • (schwing!) i am partial to mid-60’s GTOs, in the realm of muscle cars, but have a nice squishy soft spot for a mustang! it’s gorgeous! nice labor of love!

      • when i acquired the jeep, i also had a sportscar. my ex drove the minivan. i informed him we needed a larger garage, as i still needed a muscle car… must have a car for every mood. he then explained that we’d probably need a garage the size of WalMart to make that happen…

  3. Hahaha! I can imagine me spotting a stray platform pump in the weeds.

    I like watching the birds that come up to my bird feeder as I sip lemonade and read a book at a reasonable hour of the day.

    • we all have our fetishes, i suppose… your comment reminds me that i need to add a hummingbird feeder on my deck. i like them. because they are both beautiful and tiny. which means they don’t make a lot of poo.

    • it’s not a hobby that lends itself to drinking, either. if i’m up at 4:30am, i am generally drunk or dancing. or… well… yeah. that doesn’t work for bird watching either, i suppose….

  4. So is it in your freezer? My crazy bird-watching friend Lewis makes that pishing noise. I’ve seen it work for him. Also, Tommy Lee Jones can call squirrels with two fifty cent pieces, but that’s probably less relevant here.

    • nope. couldn’t get it into the trunk of the rental car… and the guys didn’t let me get out and even go lick the tires or anything. bastards. the ‘pishing’ thing didn’t seem to be working that morning, but they both swore to its effectiveness…

      and tommy lee can call this squirrel with a couple of dimes… i’m easy.

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