Sunday, March 31, 2013


While visiting my family, I spotted our neighbor putting away his garbage cans. I use the word "spotted" because he is a birder. On a whim, I decided to cross the street and say hello. I was expecting a light-hearted chat about birds, like Chats for instance. But the neighbor played the tough guy card. He offered an unsolicited recommendation of binoculars. He suggested 8, 9 or 10 power. Then he said that he prefers 12 power but most people cannot handle them. “Unless you’re used to holding things steady in your hand like I am.” Then the neighbor made his hand into a gun and held it steady, rock steady. He looked at his hand then looked at me with a look that said," When I say I handle things steady, I am talking about guns buddy."
Suddenly he pointed at what I know as a Scrub jay. He asked, "What's that bird?" "Scrub jay," said I. "You sure?" Then he talked about how the American Birders Association (or some such authority) in their infinite wisdom decided they should be split...etc, etc," the story was decorated with cuss words. He is the foul-mouthed, tough Marine of birding. Then he said, "It's a Scrub jay."
Somehow he transitioned to his property in Montana. He told me that "Indian braves" routinely steal his horses. They have to either steal horses or go to war to become men, so understandably, these kids choose horse theft. 
He went on to say that there is a Marine sniper living on his property so he doesn't worry about it while he is gone. Even when he is there, visitors "will not appreciate the welcome they get," because he  has a tendency to shoot people. Then he amended the statement to "at people," because his neighbor is a deputy sheriff and he frowns upon the shooting of people. 

So forget what you thought you knew about birders. They are tough, braggarts, maybe liars, and they might shoot you. You could probably substitute the word "neighbors" for "birders."

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