It’s springtime here in Hooterville. The vegetation has regained its lushness, the trees have restored a good deal of privacy to my lakeside retreat and yesterday, the Canada Geese brought their new babies to see me, just as they have every year. I’ve seen the fawns of the white-tailed deer, baby raccoons and have even watched a family of skunks trudge across the back lawn, heading into the woods. I knew spring had truly arrived when the Great Blue Heron stood proudly on the dock rail contemplating her next fishing spot and the comical kingfishers entertained me for hours yesterday. They remind me of Kamikaze pilots, dive-bombing under the water, emerging victorious with a minnow or a small shad. I got home from an early day at the office, finished the last bit of mowing and settled on the deck with my dog, Baby Tess to enjoy the nice weather and the stunning view.
And that’s when I saw it: the scourge of the bird world in these parts, the Brown-Headed Cowbird.
The Brown-headed Cowbird is from the blackbird family, stocky with a black body and a distinctive brown head. While all the other birds in my kingdom busy themselves building new nests with which to raise their young, the cowbirds spend all their time in “egg production” and can produce up to three dozen offspring a season. That wouldn’t bother me so much – it’s how they go about it that grinds my gears. These birds lay their eggs in the already prepared nests of other birds and leave all the dirty work of hatching and raising them to other species. Some of the host’s eggs don’t survive because of being forced into a sort of foster parent situation. The males gather on my lawn to strut and display for the females, while the females prowl the woodland and edges in search of nests. That’s not even the worst of it. Brown-headed Cowbirds are noisy, making a multitude of clicks, whistles and chatter-like calls in addition to a flowing, gurgling “song” that’s not at all enjoyable.
I was sitting on the porch watching these awful characters, grumbling under my breath when my sweet, good-natured man, my right brain, asked why I despised them so much. I blurted out, “Because if Brown-Headed Cowbirds were people they’d be rich REPUBLICANS!” His eyes flew open as he ever so slowly handed over the cup of coffee he’d just poured. In his calm, Ozark manner, told me I’d have to explain that one to him, as he settled in next to me on the deck with his typical amused expression when he thinks I’ve gone ‘round the bend.
ME: Honey, it’s like this… I sit and listen every day to lawmakers, on the payroll of rich corporations, explain to me how they’re giving tax breaks to rich corporations because they’re the “job creators” – never mind that they contribute far less proportionately in taxes than poor people. Rich people have gotten 12 years of unfunded tax breaks while we’ve gone into debt for two unfunded wars. As the rich get richer, the middle class disappears and every day, more and more people join the ranks of the poor. The people who have benefited the most from these policies call the poor people ‘parasites’ who should work harder, get less money and pay a lot more in taxes. That’s essentially it.
HIM: My sweet man patted my hand, the way he
does when he’s preparing to call in the men in the white coats. In his slow drawl he said, “Now, honey, I know I’m not smart like you. I understand why you think that’s not fair, but what in the Sam Hell does that have to do with them dad-gum Cowbirds?”
ME: *Sigh* Honey, the Cowbirds are the rich people and the big corporations. They pretty much haven’t produced anything. They haven’t worked to build their nests, they spend all their time strutting and stealing and they lay their problems on the doorsteps of the hard-working birds. If the hard-working birds can’t keep up to feed all of the charges left in their care without their permission and their own offspring die, well, too bad. It’s no skin off the Cowbird’s beak. They’re off doing some more “creating” of more eggs, but not much working. Slowly, the other birds in the area, like the middle class, become fewer and fewer as the cowbirds come to take over everything. If
I put seed out for the other birds, think of those seeds as food stamps. Those big old Cowbirds run all of the little finches and sparrows off to starve while they keep all the food for themselves, like they’re entitled. That’s sad because the finches and the warblers make such beautiful music and their songs make the world a better place. Instead, I’m left with a bunch of nest-stealing, food-stealing, cackling noise-making bullies who haven’t really worked for what they have and don’t want to let the little birds have any either. So what the Cowbirds “create” is the result of fucking one another while everyone else gets to clean up their mess. Even the bird world has douchebags!
HIM: (Sympathetically, somewhat resigned) “Want me to get my gun?”
ME: *Sigh* No. That would be like killing a rich, privileged Republican. I don’t want them dead, I want them to work as hard as everyone else in building a home and a family. I want them to let me help the little ones who are struggling and could use a nice meal now and again. I want them not to be so loud so we can hear the music that comes from a community of hard workers just trying to raise their children in a decent nest. Is that too much to ask?
HIM: I’ll make dinner. You think too much.
Just then, a turkey vulture landed on the dock, eying the new goslings.
HIM: *Sigh* I’ll get my gun.
Carol Baker is a political writer, satirist, and co-host with Vicki Childs of our Here Women Talk weekly internet talk radio show called BROADSIDED. You can hear their show every Thursday at 11 am Eastern/10 Central/8 Pacific.