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Published September 30, 2012 More Info »
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Published September 30, 2012

 

 

After spending weeks perfecting a loud and piercing whistle with which to alert motorists of his presence – one he could make without removing his hands from the handlebars – 35 year-old local velocipedist Juan Rifled was bummed to discover that it did not also trick the birds into thinking he was one of them. “I whistle while I work in the yard. Sometimes, my piercing tones will get the birds whistling, too, which convinced me for a short while that they thought I was one of them, that they had been fooled,” said Juan while mowing his lawn using a muscle-powered push mower of the spinning-wheel-of-death type. “I appears, however, that my whistle resembles the call of the striped-tailed hawk, a tenacious bird of prey, one that visits these parts frequently. Therefore, the small birds – the perching seed and berry eaters – upon hearing my whistling, approach cautiously, flying in close to the ground and hiding themselves in low-hanging branches and bushes; and after a bit of hopping around and peering through cracks in the leaves, they start chirping at me in what I find are menacing and admonishing tones. Especially the little brown ones, they'll stay at it as long as I am foxing around outside the house.”

 

While having a pow-wow in the pile of limbs and brush near the compost pit, the birds took turns clowning on Mr. Rifled. “What a douche,” said Mrs. Robin #8, of the South-Western Codorus Sheltered Valley Robin Flock. “First of all, the fact that he does everything by hand – felling the trees, bucking them, and then sawing the wood – when he would just as well be doing it with the chainsaw in the barn.” “Yeah,” cawed a small black crow sitting in the rear amidst his murder. “That, and bicycling everywhere? With the way people drive around these parts? That fucking idiot is going to get run over, right soon.” Hopping into a sudden patch of sunlight, Ms. Finch #14 shook herself violently before saying, “Well, at least he mows the lawn by hand, which means that about 99% of the bugs living in the grass survive, as opposed to all of his neighbors, who use power mowers that suck the bugs up into the vortex created by the massive spinning blades, mincing them and spitting them out as a pulpy grass-and-bug mixture that none of us can eat.” Waiting until the cacophony of dismissive and mocking calls had died away before relinquishing her perch, #14 was surprised to get a few supportive pats on her tail feathers from birds other than those of her own species.

 

Conversation turned feral-barn-cat-related until a small Starling – whom everyone recognized as Mr. Starling #137, that flock's spokesperson – jumped up onto the sunlit perch, whereupon all fell silent. (Due to the sheer size of their flock, the local starlings command a great deal of political power.) “After deliberation,” #137 said gravely. “We tentatively agree with Ms. Finch #14. Therefore, let's all ignore Juan for now, and not mess with him too much when he's out in the yard. If a few of us slip up and burst into song when he's making his pitiful little single-toned whistle, no harm done, but let's try not to encourage his recent and ham-fisted attempts at cross-species communication.”

 

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