Saturday, July 15, 2006

Changeling

I noticed the bird watching me. It was sitting on a powerline, below the balcony with the view that skims off forever. The bird had something in its beak. Maybe a bit of straw, or some bread from the French bakery across the road, loaves stacked in the window, where I had bought croissants and coffee for breakfast. Behind me some birds made an awful noise, a squawking. I turned fast enough to catch sight of a little feathered head poking out of a hole between bricks. It was definately not the only one in there. The adult bird watched me turn with obvious agitation. I silently stepped backwards, into the bedroom, and slid the glass door shut. The bird swooped up to its babies. My heart lifted with it.

But the day was grey with thunder ripping up the sky. And I started thinking about the Common Cuckoo, not the only mercenary bird, but the most renowned. She lays her eggs in a smaller bird's nest, while they're out finding food. Most often, she picks on Reed Warblers. Sometimes, as she drops off her own, she'll push the Warbler's eggs out. If she doesn't, as soon as her baby has hatched, he does. He'll roll out the unhatched eggs, or shove the tiny babies to the ground below. He's at least twice the size of his little foster parents and he's greedy and demanding. His new parents are exhausted, it's as if they're feeding a whole nest of birds. But they love him, thinking he's theirs, and keep going, just trying to be good parents and help him grow. Meanwhile, his real mother is off gallavanting, most likely fucking other Cuckoos and laying eggs in more nests, so she's free to stay out late clubbing, and not have to pay a babysitter.

Naturally, smaller sized birds have become pretty annoyed with the Cuckoo's tricks, they've started examining the contents of their nests closely, and to protect their dwindling species they'll push out any eggs that seem a bit odd, or relocate to a new nest, or sometimes even just build a fake floor over the weird egg and act as though it isn't there. But the Cuckoo mother is a determined slut, she refuses to stay home and play mom, so somehow, she's manipulated her eggs to look more like the bird's she preys on. Check it out!



And, so you know who to be nice to, this is what the Warbler looks like. He's actually teeny-tiny, but you can't really tell from this photo.



And this is the Common Cuckoo. Do NOT feed him crumbs.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are interesting because of your natural curiosity and love of nature, psyche and all things real. You have many valuable qualities you can rely on if you decide to climb out, long as the journey may appear- more than most. I would bet on you, if I didn't secretly care about you so....

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Shakermaker said...

Great post. You seem to be able to stop now and then and enjoy the small pleasures in life. How easy it is to go through life ignoring the smaller things that occur around us. I never you knew how devious the cuckoo is!

10:28 AM  

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