Back in January, Clare of The House and Other Arctic Musings brought to my attention a short story contest held monthly over at Wildbird on the Fly, the blog of Wildbird magazine‘s editor Amy. Winners get all the glory of having their story posted on the ‘net, plus also their choice of three or four bird-themed book. I just won the March contest, and selected Bright Wings by Billy Collins and David Allen Sibley, a compilation of bird poetry accompanied by Sibley’s artwork. Two of my favourite poems are about birds. I’d like to learn some more.
Incidentally, the Wildbird blog is worth checking out, if you don’t already know of it. Amy posts regular and interesting news stories and other updates on birds.
I thought I’d share my March entry here. It had to be 500 words or less, and, of course, about birds.
Ben sat at his desk in his cubicle, one hand on his mouse, the other propping up his chin as he looked wistfully out the windows on the other side of the aisle. They looked out over the parking lot to undeveloped shrubby land beyond. In the distance was the broad blue ribbon of the river. He liked to look toward it, imagining that he was walking the riverside trail with his binocular around his neck.
It was one of those beautiful June days, where the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the temperature was neither too hot nor too cold. He didn’t mind his desk job during the winter months, and in the heat of mid-summer, he appreciated being in the air-conditioned environment, but on perfect days like this, he sometimes wished he worked outdoors. He found it hard to focus on what he was doing and his productivity dropped right off on nice days.
He was staring out the window when Janet, a coworker who sat on the other side of the cubicle wall from him, returned from her lunch break. She dropped her stuff on her desk and immediately peered over the top of the wall. She looked distraught.
“Ben, I think I hit a bird!” she wailed.
“Where? On the road? Well, they do tend to fly across at the last minute, it’s not always possible to-”
“No! Here in the parking lot. I got out of my car, and there was this bird flopping around on the ground. I didn’t know what to do! Do you think you could come look at it?”
She didn’t have to ask Ben twice — any excuse to get outside. He knew of a rehabber ten minutes away they could take the bird to if needed.
He followed Janet out to the parking lot. There was a conference today, and the lot was unusually full. She’d had to park at the far side, where the paved lot gave way to a band of gravel and melted in to the shrubby field beyond. There was a small bush right by her car, and he wondered if maybe a kingbird had been flycatching.
They were half a dozen meters from the car when there was a sudden explosion of movement from the gravel edging. A brown-and-white bird, about the size of a robin, dashed onto the pavement in front of them and started flopping around wildly, looking indeed like its wing was broken.
“Is that the bird?” Ben had trouble suppressing a laugh.
“Yes! That’s it! Can you help?”
He walked to the gravel and took a quick look around. Sure enough, perfectly camouflaged among the stones were four speckled eggs.
“One of those ‘Wet Floor’ tripods and a laminated sign ought to do the trick,” he said to a confused Janet.
He pointed out the eggs and, on the way back to the building, told her all about Killdeer.
(Killdeer – in coloured pencil; I bought myself a set of artist’s quality coloured pencils at Christmas, and decided to try them out using a photo Jason of Xenogere had posted about that time as inspiration. I like their potential, but there’ll be a bit of a learning curve ahead to make the most of it.)