Available beasts.

Two-fisted bird watching was born out of a sensible compromise. Fierce beasts aren’t found around here, so you take what you can get.

You’d prefer a jungle where there are lions, panthers, rhinos, cobras, bone-crushing gorillas, all the dangers you grew up watching in jungle movies, or reading about in Kipling.

“You like Kipling?” I asked a girl on a first date. “I never kippled,” she said. First & last date.

You could go to Yellowstone where grizzlies walk, and that would be fun.

Not around here.

Not around here.

Or you could be like the late Hemingway in Africa, with a big gun, and shoot at lions in an over-compensating, bullshit craving for manliness.

Hemingway’s .577-caliber Nitro Express rifle should’ve been in his novels, not in his hands.

If you were a kid exploring prairies in the shadow of Chicago’s steel mills, you didn’t get to see lions. Your beasts were birds.

I saw Purple Gallinules and Ring-necked Pheasants. Three kinds of herons. Yellow-billed Cuckoos and every kind of migrating wood warbler, although screw their picky little names.

Around here.

Around here.

I saw Red-tailed Hawks. And Barn Owls flying quietly through our nighttime alleys. I saw two kinds of unbelievable tanagers, Scarlet and Summer.

Turkey Vultures, too. Our steel mills and garbage dumps drew these vultures. The dumps for obvious reasons. The steel mills for the promise of early death in the air we all breathed.

Avian beasts weren’t jungle monsters, but they were available. A Blue Jay with white-tipped feathers said: wild! It wasn’t part of the engineered world of humans and their crap.

If I ever go to Africa, I’ll try to watch hyenas, cheetahs, gnus and tsetse flies, maybe a spitting cobra. I won’t care about birds, there, unless I see a Honey Guide, the coolest bird in Africa.

Meanwhile, I’ll stick with our available beasts.

7 Responses to “Available beasts.”

  1. Mindy Weiner says:

    Just returned from Yellowstone. Saw grizzlies. That was very good. The best thing I saw was a squadron of White Pelicans flying over the Shoshone river in a dusty cowboy town.

  2. Bill Webb says:

    Scratch that probably. Sandy would certainly know.

  3. Bill Webb says:

    Fierce beasts? What’s more fierce than a Loggerhead Shrike, or a Kestrel. Lions and tigers…pooh! Lazy creatures.

    I wonder if that 2010 sighting could be that gallinaceous exotic that’s infesting So. Florida (can’t recall the name offhand). Sandy would probably know. They’re easily mistaken for PGs if you don’t know PGs very well.

    (Another fierce critter, BTW, and they look it, too!)

  4. Anna says:

    Has anyone spotted an Available Man Beast? The adventurous, two-fisted bird watching, fun, wild, thinking kind of beast?

    As my fellow lovely plumed hot chicks will tell you, they’re VERY rare!

    Have you spotted an AMB? Do tell!


  5. Two-Fisted Bird Watcher says:

    Sandy, you’re right. The Purple Gallinule was out of place. But I saw it. Fact is, it was a dead Purple Gallinule, but in good shape, very colorful. Had to check field guides to confirm the identification. It was in a swampy, industrial prairie south of Chicago, but this was years ago. I found the following report on Illinois Birders Forum about a 2010 sighting, so I guess anything’s possible…

    From Illinois Birder’s Forum, about a La Porte, Indiana sighting:
    …”Indiana resident David A- – – has been observing this Purple Gallinule in his backyard since May 5th, 2010. The bird is attracted to a little backyard pond stocked with koi and goldfish. He is very sure a second adult is present, although both birds have not been observed together in the open. The local lakes in the area are very reminiscent of Mermet Lake in southern Illinois.”

  6. sandy komito says:

    Now, where did you say you saw these Purple Gallinules? in Chicago? No self respecting Purple Gallinule would leave any of the beautiful Gulf Coast states unless it was something else masquerading as a Purple Gallinule. Maybe some Yankee carpetbagger kidnapped the Purple Gallinules and then released them in Chicago. Otherwise, it was probably a chicken on steroids or some other Yankee drugs. By the way, how colorful are those chickens up there?

  7. Abraham Zion says:

    You were right to dump that date! Kipling is only practiced in California!