POSTCARD #182: Bangkok: Some kind of cute little long-tailed dove-like bird has built a tiny nest in the ceiling fan we never use that’s outside on the porch; formerly the porch was where compulsive smokers would sit and flick ash into their ashtrays. Then smokers became less and less, dwindled away, became non-smokers like everyone else or joined la résistance, an underground movement. The fan hasn’t been switched on in years, the ashtrays were removed and everything was renewed, painted and no one ever went out there again.
So the birds decided it must be for them. We’re now standing behind glass doors, watching a bird arriving with small twigs held in the beak and squeezing through the bars with the structure of twigs to create a small nest base inside the metal guard. The process strikes a memory of another post in this blog from our time in Switzerland [Birds on the Balcony 1] about pigeons nesting on our balcony up there on the 7th floor. I had no camera and made a sketch of it.
The nest was in the old Christmas tree bucket we’d just put out on the balcony after Christmas had been and gone. Some of the bells and everything still dangling from the branches, the faded coloured paper of Christmas-Past… a forgotten thing. So the bird(s) just went ahead and built a nest in the abandoned tub. Strange really because the wrappings were intact, it was as if it were a continuation of a pagan rite. After a while two eggs appeared, which became two living beings with wings – and I saw the whole thing; their getting fed from the beak of the parent bird and the flapping of little downy wings. The birds on the balcony were the main focus of my attention for a long time. I feel I know such a lot about rearing birds, I’ve been through the whole thing.
Early on I realized they build their nests near human habitation because the proximity to humans is a good thing; humans chase away crows. And it was then I knew I had a part to play in this little family situation, patron and benefactor, and sure enough, security system… I had no time to prepare.
One day, I was looking out at the two cute little baby birds all huddled up in there, parent bird off to get food leaving me in charge, and suddenly I become aware of a black shape in the centre of my vision. It didn’t immediately click in my brain that it was a huge crow because maybe it’s so black, mysterious and a peculiar invisibility, a photographic negative, something that’s not supposed to be there, glinting a kind of deep purple and blue… a being materialised out of the unknown. And I’m kinda, speechless; hypnotized by it’s presence.
It slants its head with long pointed beak in the direction of the baby birds and makes a hop in their direction. I fall out of my chair, knocking over a few things in the scramble to get to the balcony door; collisions with the furniture: then a primal roar: ‘AAAAAHHHHHH!’ and wild flailing of arms, fling open the sliding glass door and the crow was gone, two little birds happy and safe, barely aware of the interruption.
My relationship with the birds became quite bonded since the visit of the crow and I felt a certain sadness when they both got their flying sense and left the balcony. Now another opportunity arises to see the beginning, and not the end….
Beauty is not caused, it is.
Chase it and it ceases,
Chase it not and it abides.
love the post and the dickinson close
Thanks David, sweet…
Who knew that our proximity to birds’ habitat was so important? Not I.. thnx for shedding light!
I think they have it figured out; just the right proximity/distance
Your bird knowledge is impressive, since they have chosen to teach you so well! Thank you for this, and for all your elegant posts. I savor them.
Thinking of the old movie, Birdman of Alcatraz, but not really like that – just something about the encounter with a being that has wings and this makes you feel so grounded, earthed and at the same time so much space in the mind…
Thanks Mel, it’s kinda seasonal too I didn’t notice at the time…
Love that quote of an Emily poem! She is one of my favs! 🙂
I’ve been meaning to get a volume of her poems for my bookshelf, can you recommend one?
I could see you in a panic to save the little bitty birds from the mean old crow. Good job. 🙂
🙂 yes… just losing control and acting instincitvely