Notes from an Audubon Splinter Group

suit of armor chick

The Battle of Hatchlings

This is fiction. I am not a loon.

I received a Rare Bird Alert early Tuesday morning notifying me to the presence of an immature Red-Headed Woodpecker in my area. Having not yet spotted a crimson-headed gem this year, I leaped from bed and made haste to the referenced wood, located directly behind a clearing. The clearing itself boasted little but a a mobile home and a truck bed lined with a tarp, effectively re-purposing it as a makeshift kiddie pool or algae breeding ground, depending on the scientific leanings of the owner.

I picked my way past rusted patio furniture and discarded beer cans to begin my morning’s quest, stopping only when I found myself face to face with a colossus of a man. He appeared from nowhere, donned in jeans and a blue T-shirt that declared him a “Chick Magnet.”

He suggested I remove myself from his property post haste, or he would “rotate my tires.”

I stopped and studied the man in his natural surroundings. Nothing in the vicinity suggested this individual was, in fact, an automobile mechanic.  The only identifiable thing on wheels was his actual home, and judging from the flattened state of its tires, they had not been rotated in some time.

I thanked him for the offer, and made a witty comment in reference to his “Chick Magnet” tee, inquiring as to what sort of juvenile bird he attracted magnetically. I suggested that a magnetized rooster weather vane might also serve as a chick magnet, if you dressed young chickens as knights, donned in tiny suits of steel armor as I once had while attempting to reenact the Battle of Hastings as “The Battle of Hatchlings.”

That’s when he struck me once in the eye.

Stunned, I clambered from my prone position, only to find the giant still shaking a fist in my direction. I realized this monster of a man did not intend to literally rotate my tires in any attempt to extend their road-worthiness. “Rotating my tires” was simply a colorful colloquialism for striking me with his fists.

What a fool I’d been.

Gripped by a flash of intuitive genius,  possibly brought on by concussion, I raised my camera and snapped a photo of my attacker. He froze in the light of my flash, much like a Cattle Egret I’d once photographed in Florida.

Seizing my momentary advantage, I turned and bolted, leaping over a half-buried clothes washer like a plover clearing seashells and reached my car with ample time to escape before the angry giant could pummel me a second time.

As I sped back down the road I had come, I found myself overcome with excitement, cackling with glee. Never before had bird watching given me such a rush! It was only pulling into my own driveway, some 35 miles later, that I recalled the original reason for my trip: the Red-Headed Woodpecker. My morning Rare Bird Alert seemed like a faraway dream.

Hunting Red-Headed Woodpeckers was for timid Canaries. I was no longer a Canary. I was an aggressive Cassowary!

I flew into my home and printed out the photo of the man from the clearing. As the ink-jet whirred, I found myself a clean journal and jotted down some notes about my encounter. “The Blue Fist Waggler,”  I wrote, peering intently through my unswollen eye,  “is a large and aggressive species. A messy nest keeper; they are easily agitated.”

Taking the man’s photo had only been a lark (Ha! Pun intended!). But in doing so, I had inadvertently stumbled upon my life’s quest: Cataloging the human race in all its colors, shapes and manifestations.

Even now, I’m writing this as I sit outside a gentleman’s establishment, waiting in hopes of capturing and cataloging the Large-Breasted Hummer.

Oh! And there she is!

Such beautiful plumage. If I wasn’t such a conservationist, I would surely mount her!

Amy Vansant

4 Responses

  1. Sarah

    You have just given me a new hobby! And also, someone should film the “Battle of Hatchlings” for A&E.


  2. Damien Galeone

    I have been looking for a mythical set of Great Tits supposedly bouncing around the neighborhood. I’ll keep you posted.



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