¶ This blog started in 2015-2016 with two years of devotionals: “Midweek Meditations: Family and Friends.” ¶ It continued throughout 2017 with short poems: “Midweek Moments: Creator and Creation.” ¶ Now in 2018 comes a lighthearted travelogue: “Midweek Milestones: 6½ Times Around the World.” ¶ For three decades we lived in a faraway place. Our travels, during those years and since, have brought us to a strangely uneven global total. Each blog posted during 2018 will actually be an excerpt from a paperback soon to be published — with cartoons, plus fuller accounts of our worldwide adventures (and misadventures!)
FAIRS, FLOWERS, AND FEATHERY FRIENDS (II)
One autumn we decided to take a week on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, especially to see migrating fowl. I remember being most impressed by the huge flocks of snow geese and tundra swans. There was also a perky little yellow-rumped warbler, known irreverently as the butterbutt.
We sometimes see a long-legged blue heron wading at the edge of a lake near our home. Along the upper Mississippi Valley we’ve seen thousands of raucous and energetic red-winged blackbirds. In the woods near old Jamestown we once spotted a pair of foot-and-a-half-high pileated woodpeckers.
Chickens run wild all over Kauai, the only Hawaiian island where the predatory mongoose doesn’t live. These ubiquitous feral fowl are small and colorful (think bantams). One fearless little hen laid her eggs only a few feet from the door of the apartment where we were staying with our family.
One dark night on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi (Celebes), Fran and I witnessed an unnerving sight: The entire top of a fencepost detached itself, sprouted wings, and flapped away. A large owl had been perching there, its dimensions seeming to become only a matching upward extension of the wood.
For years we had a large outdoor cage that held our kutilang. This fair-sized bird is drab-colored except for a splash of yellow on his hinder parts, but how he can sing!
Talking birds are in a class unto themselves. The mynah of Southeast Asia can talk circles around almost anybody in the parrot family. There used to be a mynah near the entrance to a bird park that could whistle the entire first line of the Indonesian national anthem.
Missionary colleagues of ours in Indonesia were natives of Texas. They had a mynah that would cock its head and greet you in the Indonesian language: “Selamat pagi, tuan!” (“Good morning, sir!”) If you did not respond, the bird would cock its head the other way and say “Apa kabar, tuan?” (“How are you, sir?”) Continued silence would evoke its third attempt to be friendly, spoken with a broad southwestern twang: “Howdy, tuan!”
When we visited ranches in South America, we saw big gaunt birds that are locally called pterodactyls. I forget whether it was in Chile or in Argentina where we observed these black bony fowl. They almost make you feel you’re being haunted by something primeval or prehistoric.
The kea, a small grey parrot native to New Zealand, has unfortunately developed a taste for rubber. When you park near keas, you have to keep a good watch on your tires, as well as on your car’s door and window fittings.
The long-tailed widow bird is a native of Kenya in East Africa. Its magnificent tail-feathers grow only on the males, not the females. Is that why it’s called the widow bird? We never found out.
Copyright © 2017 by Perry Thomas