Friday, January 13, 2006

Grackle Whisperer

The grackle. I love that bird. Such a character! The male grackle is a black bird who is distinguished by fluffing himself up to look bigger, thrusting his beak into the air and flying with a twisted tail. The tail thing alone endears me to the grackle.

But, it’s the grackle’s call that’s the best. “Graaaaaaaaaaackle!”

We stopped at Kroger’s the other night, the kids and me, and grackles were everywhere.

“Uh, Dad, just drop us off here and we’ll walk the rest of the way.”

“What? We’re a mile away.”

“Yeah, Dad, we know. Just drop us off. We’ll be OK. We’ve got water and a little food. Meet you in the bread section.”

I stopped and let them out.

Pulling into the parking lot the grackles were everywhere. Thousands of them.

I got out of the car and took my Grackle Stance. I learned from observation that if you take the Grackle Stance the birds will recognize you as one of their own.

I held my arms out, thrust my nose in the air and tried to puff up.

“Graaaaaaaaaaaaaakle!” I screeched.

Several people turned to stare. A mother, obviously new to the neighborhood, grabbed her child’s hand and scuttled off.

“What’s that funny man doing, Mommy?” I heard.

“Don’t stare at the strange man, Allison, and let this be a lesson to you about drugs!”

As a professional I’ve been called the Grackle Whisperer. Only you can’t whisper to a grackle. You have to shout. I guess the Grackle Shouter doesn’t quite have the same ring.

“Graaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakle!” I screeched.

An entire flock of birds wheeling around the Kroger’s sign shifted direction and headed my way.

I started to do the Grackle Strut. Puffed up, nose in the air, hands tucked firmly in my armpits I pranced around the parking lot.

“Graaaaaaaaaaaaaakle!” I screeched.

Thousands of birds wheeled around me in a black tornado of feathers and beaks all screeching little “Graaaaakle!” noises. I could feel their wing beats.

Then, like the first drops at the beginning of a thunderstorm the first plop of grackle poop hit my hand.

Undaunted, surrounded by my posse I issued the call: “Graaaaaaaakle!”

And the storm hit in full fury. In an immense display of affection each individual grackle dropped his or her personal load upon my outstretched body. Pelted from head to foot I called out “Graaaaaaaakle!” and my brothers and sisters, caught up in the moment, honored me in their unique way.

Plop! On the head. Plop! On the shoulder. Plop! Plop! Plop! The frequency intensified until plops became a torrent; a great rushing of honor.

“Graaaaaaaaakle!” I cried and their honor increased until the plops merged into a deafening roar of appreciation.

Then, as suddenly as they had appeared the grackles wheeled off into the twilight sky, circling twice around the Kroger’s sign and off west into the distance. Shortly they were gone and the parking lot was still.

Slowly I made my way to the front door and was greeted by Carlos.

“Honored again I see,” Carlos the Observant said.

“Yes. My people. What can I say?” I replied sagely, dripping in honor.

“Ah, yes, sir.” Carlos paused, then continued, “you are honored indeed.”

Carlos eyed me up and down. Grackle honor dripping off my nose, down my back and into my shoes. A small, white puddle of honor pooled in the foyer, ran out the front door and into the gutter.

Eying me with appreciation Carlos said,

“I’ll get a hose.”


Anonymous said...

You would have thought after the Grackle Strut they'd have respected your authoritIE!


Bret said...

Every spring -- or when we have a stretch of weather like the last few weeks, every January -- the grackles would congregate around good ol' Rice U. and, uh, honor the grounds beyond Fear Factor gross.

During this honorable time, a favorite pastime was to wait near a grove of trees until a book-laden fellow student wandered deep into their midst, then whip out wood blocks or trash can lids and give percussion a chance.

They would be honored very thoroughly.

eat stuff said...

I wanted to say I am sorry that I didn't participate in the fondue dinner, I was all sent and then Kiri went missing and I had no desire to do anything....

If you have another event I would love to particapte.

Anonymous said...

i have to be honest, this whole thing seemed contrived, so i had to google grackle. say that five times fast. since i have never heard of them, although i dont live anywhere near you, which could explain this anomoly.

and i don't know for sure if i believe you would go into the store covered in grackle goo. come on bill, are you pulling our feathers?

Foo said...

Dripping, you say. Kinky.

That was... unnerving. The mental image of you as Willard's grackophilic counterpart is now permanently etched in my memory.

Just so I'm clear on this, are grackles those dark brown birds I see hopping around eating garbage in the parking lot at Taco Bell?

Anonymous said...

I've never before had the urge to laugh and retch at the same time. Um... thanks?

The Queen Mama said...

You have a lot of spare time on your hands, don't you, Bill? Good thing for me, though. I needed the laugh today. Thanks.