Legends from our own lunchtimes

Thursday, July 03, 2008

When Good Birdseed Goes Bad

There was a time when the sparrows would fly through our house as though it was theirs. They'd eat crumbs from our coffee table and generally treat us with the contempt which undoubtedly we deserved.

We had a friend who maintained a large city hotel, who offered us a bag of a special sort of birdseed, which would, he promised with a wink which clearly wasn't observed by the female among us, disorient them, and they would never find their way back.

And it did, and they didn't.

Time went by, as it always does, and we found ourselves in the company of a young friend's budgie while she was away for a few weeks. Now it has been previously been observed, that we don't do budgies all that well, so it was incredibly brave of our young friend to leave said bird in our charge.

All went well for a time, until one coffee time, when a few ladies were assembled on our back verandah, and I was summoned from my office to see what I could do with what was very certainly a soon to be deceased family pet.

As the poor thing lay writhing, taking no comfort from the hands of one of our guests who was tenderly nursing it as it breathed it's last, I calmly turned on the stereo.

I wondered at the open bag of "special" seed near the cage. Was this, I wondered half aloud with shoulders dropped, the special seed which disorients sparrows?

Alas, my investigations proved it was the very same.

Incredibly, having missed the wink in that earlier conversation, and also having forgotten to replenish the dwindling stock of birdseed, one of us had used the special seed to provide sustenance to the poor thing.

Figuring I suppose, that a budgie cage is so small, a little diminuition of the homing senses could only be a good thing. Sort of like Alzheimer's for birds I guess. Surely if a bird forgot where it was in a small cage, it would be like living in a large cage.

Wouldn't it?

Well I suppose so, except that the “disorientation” dispensed by this seed was somewhat more significant than that contemplated by the keeper of the flock. Even when confronted with the evidential budgie in distinctly corpse-like repose, she refused to accept it as anything but mere coincidence.

A few days later, in an effort to prove me wrong, she sought counsel from the owner of the wink.

Without a word, the seed mysteriously disappeared, and rest assured dear reader, we haven’t come across another disoriented budgie to this day.


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