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Wednesday, August 19, 2015


morris graves
A bird flew through the room a little bit ago. I saw a dark blur streak through the room in a straight line like an arrow from the open door to the door opposite to another room with a window. It was such a faint blur that caught the corner of my eye, I wasn't sure if it was a figment in my eye or actually a bird. Didn't hear it hit the window, but had an idea it would be there. Looked. Sure enough, a young thrasher with a mix of baby feathers and adult feathers. Sometimes birds are easy to catch in a window and sometimes not. The screen door was half open for Caterpillar to come and go. I opened the screen door all the way in case I could not catch the bird, to give it a way out when I scared it and it flew to the next opening the bird saw. It turned out to be an easy bird to catch, perhaps for being so young. An open hand on either side of it, I gently closed in on its frantic fluttering in the window's corner, embracing the bird rather than grabbing it. One of its wings was off to the side between two fingers. I opened the hand enough to give the bird a chance to pull the wing to its side. I did not want to hurt a wing. Wing in place, hands closed in around the beautiful bird with such a long tail, held it loose in the cups of both hands, a small sphere the bird could move easily inside and not feel the panic of being grabbed, caught.
morris graves
I closed fingers in front of the bird so it could not see. Birds calm down immediately when they can't see. This includes chickens. The bird settled right down while I walked it to the open door. I stepped outside and opened my hands. Bird flew in a beautiful straight line out of my hand. I was happy it was such an easy one to catch. An experienced bird will not let me close enough to it to reach it with hands. It flies to another window or something up high it can land on, like a picture frame. I close the entrances to other rooms, leaving only the door to outside open. I will keep the bird in motion with a walking stick or broom handle. Either right away or eventually, the bird will land in a place where it can see the open doorway. The door standing open closes the sight of the opening to half the room. Bird in a good place to see the doorway, I leave it alone, let it sit there, let its blood pressure settle, wait for it to calm down and assess its surroundings. Once I feel like the bird is situated in its mind and calm inside, I clap my hands once. It flies straight out the door.
morris graves
In my early time here, a bird came into the house and I felt like I had to catch it. What madness that created. I'd keep the bird in motion until it wore itself out, flying from window to window not so energetic, then capture it in a window corner. I tried letting them find the door on their own, but they don't. They hunker down in a place they feel safe and stay there. I also learned the longer one stays in the house, the greater the risk of a streak of white bird shit down a painting on the wall. It better be cleaned up while it's wet, too. The first attempt to catch the bird doubled as a gesture to set it in motion if unable to capture it. I don't like to stress them too much and really don't want to hurt one. Over time, I've learned the easy way is the best way, and the easy way is to understand, first, the bird is conscious, it has a mind. Now, when I can't catch one, I gently assist it, allowing it to use its own mind, give it time to figure things out, let it read the room and find the open door. Just a clap of the hands, something to startle it into motion, it makes a bee line out the door.
morris graves
My hillbilly grandmother taught me about birds all through childhood. She kept a beautiful male canary songbird in a cage by the window. She loved canary song. And she loved her birds. She had an especially good male singer and she borrowed a hen canary from a friend of hers and a larger cage for them. They mated and we watched five baby canaries grow up. She gave me one I named Chi Chi, she kept one, the one with a weak leg she called Spraddle,  and gave the others to her friends, one to the woman, Mattie, she borrowed the hen from. Parakeets came along and she kept a parakeet in a cage too. Then I had to have a parakeet. Named it Davy Crockett, the coolest kid show on tv. My mother grew so weary of hearing the kid say Davy Crockett over and over trying to teach the bird to say its name, she made me change the name. She could not hear Davy Crockett one more time. Grandmother kept chickens too, Cochin banties, and I made pets of them. Walking home from school, I'd call to them from a block away. The whole flock ran up the street to greet me. I had to pick them up, one at a time, on the way to the house, gathered around my feet, hopping up and down, waiting for their moment to be held. I feel fortunate that grandmother passed to me her love for birds. Now, I live in the cage and watch the birds outside.      
morris graves himself

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