I was just stepping out of the front door for my morning walk when my cat, Toby, stopped me.
“You forgot to fill the bird feeder last night and now all the birds are mad at you. You ever forget to feed me and I’ll rip your lungs out.”
“Shut up,” I said as I went to get the bird seed. I noticed several birds flew over to the feeder, only to find it empty. They hung about for a few seconds and flew to a nearby fence where several had gathered, most likely to complain about me.
I got the feeder filled up and left on my two and a half mile walk. It was a little humid but was, nonetheless, a pleasant morning. I go through our neighborhood at a pretty quick pace and usually get lost in my thoughts. I did notice something a little different though. The birds were very noisy this morning. It also seemed as if they were following me. None of them dive bombed me (or worse, messed in my direction) but it was pretty clear the news of my unreliability as regards the bird feeder had spread throughout the bird community. I don’t speak bird but Toby does. I resolved to ask him when I got back home.
The walk went on without incident though it was pretty clear that the birds were following me and announcing for the entire world to know that I was indeed the reprobate that left them without their morning sustenance. I wanted to ask whatever happened to wild birds fending for themselves but doubted I would get a straight answer. I made the inward observation that this is what happens when people and animals get too dependent on something without making do themselves. Ah, I digress.
On my next to last corner, I came upon a retention pond. It is the biggest one in the neighborhood and is always populated with several ducks and geese. I was watching the morning crowd diving for breakfast when I happened to notice four geese. They were on the pond in a line and looking straight at me. When they had my devoted attention, they turned around, in unison, and dove their four heads into the water and their backsides straight up in the air. I had been mooned by four geese (this actually happened). The neighborhood birds had conspired against me.
“Yes, they said they were going to get the geese to do that.” Toby was laughing so hard, he almost blinked.
“What happened to wild animals fending for themselves?” I was incredulous.
“You made them dependent, dummy, and now they don’t know how to find their own food.” Toby had made a point.
“What else did they say?”
“Well,” Toby said, “Birds are not particularly malicious but they did say something would happen the next time you leave them without food.”
Toby looked at me intently. “What’s it worth to you to find out?”
“Want to find out how to find YOUR own food, hotshot?”
I cannot print his response. Even a “expletive deleted” would not suffice.