How to Tell the Birds

[ These writings first appeared in booklet form in 2010. Inspired by a visit to the Natural History Museum in Roger Williams Park I share them here now for no other reason than spring, although snow is in the air.]

How to tell the birds that you’re sorry for shooting them, stuffing them, freeze drying them, mounting them and sticking them up for display in a natural history museum. You are also sorry that nobody looks at them anymore because people are more interested in a dinosaur bone and in the tire that came off the space shuttle that’s propped up next to the elevator. You are sorry about the planes that suck you birds into their jet engines and you are sorry for Chicken McNuggets. Very sorry.
You are sorry for all of it but it’s just not working out. We are just in different places. You are all great birds really, the best and you'll be a great catch for someone, but I've got my work and you birds have got your bird thing and the timing just isn’t good. It's complicated. It’s not you, it’s me. Take care birds.

How to tell the birds that the little house they have been living in, the little house nailed to a tree, the very house that they have fixed up so nicely with twigs and bits of plastic from around the yard, well that house has been repossessed by the bank and some men will be coming to board up the little hole in the front that you use for a doorway and you won't be able to get inside anymore. So you see you will have to go. Please keep the bits of plastic and that red bottle cap, we won’t need them. Take anything you can carry really, but you better get going. If you need any help we will leave you a card with a website on it. Sorry.

How to tell the birds that well the thing is the Company is downsizing and just doesn't need so many birds around anymore. In fact they don't need any except a couple of jays who can put on a show and the crows, who have negotiated a separate contract. Remember when the crows used to live in the country? Scarecrows, they were for them. Well they moved to the city and now they run everything. Whatever bird stuff needs doing, pretty much they are doing it. Anything left will be outsourced, so to speak to a few plywood bird cutouts. They don’t cost much and need just a little touch up from time to time.The chirping and singing and such have been converted to digital files available for download on the Company website. Straight to your phone, amazing. Anyway it's just there hasn't been the demand like there used to be and with the economy and all it was decided that the Company had to move in a different direction. You understand. Good luck.

How to tell the birds that you are just not interested in hearing their excuses any more, coming around with all those little chirps and tweets, the cackles and caws, the fussy little twitterings that they pass off as "song", you've had enough. It's always the same tune, there was this or that bit of food someplace, or they needed one more to make up the formation, and of course you can't tell them no, no matter that they don't know where they're going and the next thing you know you're in Canada or who knows where. Well no more. There's never a bird around when you need one, sure they’re happy to sing when the sun is shining, who isn't? But as soon as there is a little bit of weather... Take a listen... See? Nothing, nada, not a peep. Squirrels are more dependable.

How to tell the birds that you don’t really mean it, you take it all back. Robin and Jay, Martin, Swallow and Finch. Bittern, Waxwing and Nightjar, Whip-poor-will, Wren and lesser Nighthawk, Plover, Killdeer and Oystercatcher, Dove, Fish Crow and Oriental Cuckoo, Shy Albatross, Reed Bunting and Prairie Warbler, Shiny Cowbird and Oriole and Bobolink. You are sorry, you want them all back. You have some seed and there’s a nice bit of suet back at the house. Birds, what do you say?