Commentary

EDITOR’S CORNER

Meadow Drive encounter one ‘for the birds’
Mike Brown

t’s always something. Last week I was hurrying back to my office after a quick lunch at home and was driving down Meadow Drive.

I’ve done that thousands of times, of course, but when I got about even with Peace Lutheran Church I looked up through my windshield.

What was either a Mexican eagle, or maybe a smallish golden eagle, was soaring south almost parallel down the street. But I didn’t have time to admire it.

It was accompanied by three much smaller birds, dark colored, darting and circling. In my limited knowledge of our feathered friends I pegged them as either swifts or swallows.

They were attacking the eagle, really giving it the what-for, I mean, pecking it with their beaks. And the eagle wasn’t fighting, it was fleeing.

The bird fight in the sky kept pace with me as I headed on down Meadow and stopped at the red light on the highway.


Art by Stefan Hinijosa, a 2012-13 senior at Rockdale High School. Art by Stefan Hinijosa, a 2012-13 senior at Rockdale High School. The beleaguered eagle f lew across the highway and I looked above him (her?) to see four or five more little birds circling above.

If they’d been buzzards (turkey vultures) I’’d have taken that as a sign something was dead down there on the ground to the south.

But it soon became obvious what their behavior meant. I watched as the circling birds joined in the attack on the big bird.

The eagle, w ith whom my sympathies lay, made one of those up-and-way-down roller-coaster swoops and disappeared behind the tree line at the railroad tracks.

Maybe a couple of the little birds followed but the rest just continued to circle.

I never saw the eagle again.

I had one of those “did I really see what I just saw?” moments and drove on to work.

About two hours later I saw pretty much the same thing. This was in a different location—a corn field between Rockdale and Thorndale.

This time it wasn’t any bird as magnificent and awe-inspiring as an eagle. It was one of the aforementioned turkey vultures.

But the setting was the same. A small circle of those little black f lutter- and- swoop birds dive bombing the buzzard like they were mockingbirds going after cats during nesting season.

Occasionally I’ve seen blue jays do that, but most of the time it’s been the attitude-with-feathers that we so proudly hail as our state bird.

I remember once stepping outside on my front porch to see a mockingbird dive-bombing a big old gray and black tomcat that belonged to one of the neighbors. With every peck I could see the cat’s mouth move but no “meow” came out.

This cat would never have very much to do with me. But this time he made a beeline for the porch, jumped up on the wooden railing and flipped his tail in the general direction of the mockingbird.

It was like he knew the bird wasn’t coming any closer as long as I was on the porch. Turned out he was right.

The cat turned around and looked at me. His eyes said “well, aren’t you going to do something!”

“Oh, so now you like me,” I thought. I shooed the bird off, for all the good it did. The cat used our front yard for a latrine and went home.

I guess I’m a little sensitive to birds since we got back from our vacation to California. At one point Sue and I were headed up the coast and if we’d kept going for another hour we would have been in a little town called Bodega Bay.

Bodega Bay is where Alfred Hitchcock set “ The Birds,” his masterful and unsettling movie about what would happen if birds would really turn against us, like we were cats or Mexican eagles flying over Meadow Drive.

It’s unsettling because no reason is ever given why the birds act the way they do and there’s no resolution. The hero, his family, girlfriend and a pair of caged lovebirds (representing, uh, hope, love, something?) drive off as kazillions of birds watch, apparently massing for a final attack.

I first saw that movie when I was 12 years old. I won’t say it bothered me. It did anger me because I don’t like stuff, then or now, that doesn’t resolve its story.

But ever since it’s sort of stayed in my head. You know in the winter when blackbirds form what looks like storm clouds in the sky and when you get closer you see it’s thousands of birds?

Well, that’s when I think of that movie.

Or when on dreary, foggy days I see a string of dozens of birds sitting on guy wires like I did back in the spring on top of the police station.

My dad, a preacher, would always say the birds were “having church.”

But I always thought they were just waiting for Alfred Hitchcock to yell “action!”

I’m not saying it’s a trend but the London Daily Telegraph, not a sensationalist periodical by any means, reported a 31-year- old French woman last week was attacked by a pack of feral cats as she walked her poodle in the city of Belfort.

It’s not funny. She had to take rabies shots and an artery was punctured. She survived.

So, we’ve got cats going after people, and dogs, in France and birds attacking eagles and buzzards in and around Rockdale.

Wonder if there’s more to this “Angr y Birds” thing than we know?


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2013-08-01 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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