I’ve never really liked birds all that much. Their eyes are too dead looking…cold and black…and how do you love something that has a weapon where it’s mouth ought to be? I’m sure that when I was little I was just afraid of all things avian, but since I was afraid of pretty much everything, that’s not big news.
My grandmama used to laughingly tell the story of walking down Main Street as a young woman, talking to her sister. She felt something land in her hair and, when she swiped at it with her hand, she managed to smear bird poo all through her lovely new hairdo. I’m sure that lovely tale fueled some bird-related anxiety for me, even though they say it’s good luck to be the recipient of bird crap from heaven landing on you. (Seriously, ‘they’ were really reaching with that one, I’d say.)
Back in South Carolina, I remember seeing lots of blue jays and cardinals, some crows and tons of pigeons (aka rats with feathers) whenever I went downtown. Oh, there were certainly other types of birds there, but I wasn’t very observant, and I would usually go out of my way to avoid too much contact with anything (shudder) WILD. I also remember a few times when I caught a glimpse of a far-off, V-shaped group of geese flying somewhere, usually at sunset. They seemed elegant and somehow romantic, winging their way to someplace far from the stifling heat of Columbia, South Carolina. I never actually had any up-close goose encounters, but there would have been screaming if they got too close to me, so I was satisfied with the idea of them.
When I moved to Oregon I started paying a little more attention to birds in general. I’m certainly no birder, but I did notice that the blue jays here look more exotic than the ones I was used to. The pigeons and crows are normal, but I was almost a little disappointed to realize that we don’t have cardinals at all in Portland. The trade-off, I learned, was that I would get to enjoy seeing the V formation of Canada Geese on a regular basis…it became something to look forward to during the changing of seasons, and it reminded me that I live in a really cool part of the world.
And then I started my new job, where geese (and I mean LOTS of geese) are an everyday thing. Our campus is part of a wetlands area that is apparently where every damn Canada goose in Oregon (and at least half of those in Canada) come to breed! At first I was all, ‘Wow, we’re surrounded by geese…how cool is that!?” Now, after three months of it, I’m continually watching my back around the tyrants…they think they own the joint! It’s bad enough to have them giving you the stink eye all the time, certain that you’re making a ninja move toward their babies, but then they randomly just decide to walk down the middle of the street, backing up traffic…babies in tow! Since when am I more dangerous than an SUV?
Worst of all, though, is when the damn things fly. Let me tell you, looking up just in time to see a couple of critters the size of the biggest Thanksgiving turkey you’ve ever even heard about swooping right by your head is a bit unsettling.
This shot shows just a small sample of the goose population that our offices are surrounded by. And folks, where there’s a goose, there’s goose poop. Thousands of geese generate lots and lots of it. The security guards actually have to hose down the front walk every morning, and you just learn to watch your step at all times. We even hear periodically about some poor employee leaving after a hard day at work, only to be poop-bombed on the way to their car.
Oh, I still enjoy watching the goosey circle of life, but I try to keep a safe distance, and I’m basically over my love affair with geese. It was nice while it lasted, but I’ve moved on. Let’s just hope I don’t get lucky any time soon!