Thoughts about birds take flight as spring finally takes hold

A friend gave us a bird once.

No, I didn’t say “the” bird, which would mean flashing a middle finger at us, which is something a friend wouldn’t do, really, unless you have very weird friends.

Because giving someone the finger is such a no-no these days, that any offending up-pointed middle digit is actually blurred out on TV. As if seeing someone’s one-finger salute is going to completely ruin a person’s life.

And yet the old idiot box (which is now actually the old idiot flat screen rectangle, I guess) is practically inundated with potty mouths these days.

F-bombs are literally everywhere, and that long-standing taboo has even been replaced with the dreaded C-word. You can hear those Australian zoo people use the word “crikey” all the time, and nobody even bleeps it out.

Still, flipping the bird is censored. I don’t get it. But then again, what I really don’t get is when I started out about 10 sentences ago, I meant this column was going to be about actual birds.

And not the finger kind.

Because the birds are back. Our allotted several days of spring have finally arrived, and suddenly, birds are everywhere. They are happily fighting over our bird feeders and noisily frolicking in our giant spruce tree right outside our kitchen window.

I’m no orthodontist, but it’s pretty clear to me birds are probably a very important part of the precarious balance of Mother Nature’s ecological, um, balance.

And birds are critical for the ozone layer, which nobody talks about anymore. Also, climate change.

So, thank goodness for birds, is all I can say. As long as they don’t start gathering sinisterly and then attacking humans like the birds did in that Alfred Hitchcock movie called The Birds, which scared the pants off of people way back when they didn’t swear in movies.

All I really remember about that movie was a shot of about a million crows, or perhaps starlings, sitting menacingly on telephone wires, and then a large pigeon or some such bird attacking Tippi Hedren’s beautiful blond hair.

Also, I remember thinking: “Why would anyone have the dumb name ‘Tippi?’ ”

So I looked up some bird stuff.

Did you know that the most common bird in the entire world is the blue-footed booby? I’m kidding of course; I could have said the red-billed oxpecker, which I also found after I Googled “funniest bird names.”

But seriously though, the actual most common bird in the world is not the sparrow or starling, or the hoary puffleg, it’s the domestic chicken. (And I’ll bet most of them are owned by KFC and McDonald’s.)

Other than those common cluckers, the most plentiful wild bird in the world is the red-billed quelea, which swarms in Africa, but I’m sure everybody knows that.

How about this, then: that popular pet bird known as the budgie is Australian. And so is the parakeet, on account of the budgie and parakeet are the same thing! Both of them are actually names for a type of small parrot technically called the budgerigar.

And that’s what our friend gave us. For a wedding present. The Better Half and I named her Peek-A-Boo, and she was a very nice pet that sang beautifully all the time.

The entire natural food chain was there in our kitchen – the cat staring at the bird, the dog staring at the cat.

Peek-A-Boo didn’t live long enough, though, and at the time, I thought it was a kind of odd wedding present.

But at least our friend didn’t flip us the bird.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer writer and filmmaker.

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