As a kid I went to a zoo that had a rookery. Didn’t know the word. Boring cages. Birds. Never figured it out.

Now, I’m more aware of words and birds. A rookery is where there are rooks. What they call crows in England.

But there are rooks on my chessboard, too. This is a word with more than one definition. Here’s a third…

Yeah, right...

I felt rooked—cheated—today, because birds weren’t in the wild.

They were in my yard. We put out seeds, and every bird in the world came.

Being a guy who believes that two-fisted bird watching is properly done away from civilization, I had mixed feelings about this.

So I left home, and I walked through nearby wilds to do some real birding. But they were dead quiet.

Snow, bare trees, freezing wind. No wildlife.

Back in my yard there was a buck with a full rack of antlers. Coyote tracks. Fearless raccoons.

Bright red Cardinals and their brownish wives, winter goldfinches. Upside down nuthatches; titmice, juncos.

My kid claims he saw a Pileated Woodpecker on our feeder, but I have doubts about that.

Hell, I want birds to be in the wild. Instead, they’re here, and only here. The wilderness is empty.

I’ve been rooked.

3 Responses to “Rooked.”

  1. Two-Fisted Bird Watcher says:

    Ian, You’re right about the Rook. Thanks for the information, and for your comment.

  2. Ian Layton says:

    Down here in Texas, we can feel the same way, but at totally different times of the year. However, I have been in that place where you can walk through the woods and not hear or see a thing.
    On another note, having grown up in UK, I need to correct your statement about Rook being what we English call crows. The Rook is a member of the crow family but is different than the American Crow or even the British counterpart, the Carrion Crow.

  3. Bill Webb says:

    I think the word “rook” derives from an Old German word that means thief. The name of the bird, a notorious thief, and the chess piece, which sits quietly until you discover that it’s blocking a move you want to make — or worse, already made — thus probably have more in common than one would first expect.