Happy Friday (and happy May-Long Weekend Canada!)
Today’s chapter finds Oscar and Bailey learning about the bird called Killdeers. A caution for younger readers, and a bit of a spoiler alert: things don’t end well for the Killdeers….
Chapter 20—Bailey-Button and the Killdeers
Grandma Brown’s house and yard is filled with all kinds of wonderful birds. Grandma Brown put up birdhouses and feeders by all the windows just for me. She told me that if I enjoyed a video about birds, watching the real thing would be the “bee’s knees”. Now, I am not sure if bees even have knees, but watching live birds from the comfort of every room in the house was pretty terrific. My favorite was watching the birds with the windows open so that I could hear and smell as well as see.
I came to know the many different chirps and twitters of all the many birds in the yard. Often I knew a bird by both its look and sound, but not always. One bird that eluded me for a time was the killdeer. I heard that bird all the time, but never set eyes on it until the day I helped Grandma Brown weed her strawberry patch. Grandma Brown wasn’t a huge fan of the killdeer mostly because they always nattered at her while she played in her strawberry patch. They are a nattery and noisy bird always yelling their name “kill-deer, kill-deer, tu-weep TUWEEP, Kill-deer.” Killdeers are not known for being overly smart in the nest building department. According to Grandma Brown, the killdeers build their nest in the silliest of places, and then they spend all their waking moments obsessing and chirping over safety of their eggs. In Grandma Brown’s case, the killdeers always seemed to build their nests in her strawberry patch, and all summer, every time Grandma Brown was weeding or picking berries, the killdeers would walk along side Grandma Brown trying to distract her, and lead her away from their nest.
Grandma Brown, clever though she was, thought getting me outside and helping her weed the strawberry patch would help distract the killdeers from bugging her. I am not sure how much I helped Grandma Brown, but I found the killdeers to be deceptively challenging prey. At first I thought, “birds that walk instead of fly—how hard could they be to catch?” Then I realized, those birds walk really fast!! Eventually Bailey found me trying to chase down the killdeer. When she asked me what was going on, I told her all about the killdeers. This started a very long, and surprisingly in depth conversation about ground birds. I began to realize that Bailey was a very intelligent dog who just happened to view the world in a very different way.
As we were formulating a plan where we would work together to catch the killdeer, we heard Grandma Brown yelling and hollering, “…get out of here you stupid bird! I am nowhere near your stupid nest! SCRAM!” Bailey and I were both quite surprised to see Grandma Brown speak so harshly to anyone—let alone the killdeers. I wish I could say it stopped with her yelling, but this particular day Grandma Brown really blew her fuse with those killdeers. They just wouldn’t stop circling and chirping, and Grandma Brown just couldn’t handle it any more so she picked up a rock and threw it at the killdeers.
Bailey and I both couldn’t believe our eyes or ears. The killdeers began to yell things like “Dirty, rotten rock-thrower! Dirty rotten rock-thrower walking around the eggs—beware the dirty rotten rock thrower!!!” It was amazing, I could understand bird!! I felt very intelligent—and multilingual. Bailey, on the other hand, barely noticed. Instead, she wandered off muttering to herself “mmmmm….eggsssnifff …..mmmmmm…..killdeer poopssssnniifffff….mmmm…killdeer eggsssnifff….” Whether it was the rock throwing, or Bailey’s presence I am unsure, but Grandma Brown, for the first time since spring, managed to complete her play time in the strawberry patch without the nattering of killdeers.
When Grandma Brown was done weeding her strawberry patch, she and I went back inside the house. Bailey seemed distracted by some kind of smell way at the far end of the garden. Grandma Brown seemed relieved that whatever held Bailey’s attention wasn’t scarf, chocolate, litter-box, or craft-corner, related and went inside to enjoy a cool drink of water (and a refreshing tuna snack for me!)
As we were enjoying our respective refreshments, we heard the killdeers outside. From what I could hear, they were still panicking over their eggs, but both Grandma Brown and I just assumed they were obsessing over the events that transpired earlier. If we had cared to listen more carefully we likely would have heard, “Dirty rotten rock-thrower’s dog…found our nest…our eggs!! Help dirty-rotten rock thrower—your dog–Ohhhh nooooo….”
Of all the things Bailey got into, this was the most tragic. The killdeers were devastated, and they blamed Grandma Brown for everything. Those birds can really hold a grudge. From that point forward, the killdeers moved out of the strawberry patch, and far away from Grandma Brown—whom they unceremoniously named “That Dirty Rotten Rock Thrower”.