I think I mentioned that my first word, according to my grandma, was “bird.” I’m sure others will argue with her, but I love it so I’m sticking with it. She used to sing the song “Bye Bye Blackbird” to me – I can remember her bouncing me on her shoulder while she stirred her soup with her free hand. I have a fascination with birds, so I think it’s actually true. Big Bird (not that he technically counts as a bird, but so what) was my favorite Sesame Street character, partly because he is YELLOW and he has such a stunning empathy unmatched by any other character. This is why I cried so hard as a two-year-old watching the scene of the movie “Follow That Bird” when Big Bird is kidnapped, painted blue and forced to sing in a cage by these two bastards called the Sleaze brothers. They were running a circus and wanted to profit off of Big Bird in their circus act called “The Bluebird of Happiness.” Even I as a toddler picked up on the irony when he sang about being so blue. As a cruel joke, my aunt’s husband at the time liked to play the scene over and over again to watch my reaction. Boooo!

Anyway BIRDS…when I was a kid I used to love it when the baby robins hatched in the corner of grandma’s front window awning. And then I was told that when I looked out the window when the mom was feeding her birds, she would never return to the nest and the birds would be left to fend from themselves. Is that true? I’m not really sure, but it sounds horrible and I blamed myself for doing that more than a few times. I couldn’t resist – watching the mother feed her baby birds was so irresistible. Their little beaks were so yellow and sharp – it was interesting and I would daydream thinking of myself as a baby bird not having to do anything – just having the mother bird feed me. It was funny. I liked it. But there were a couple times when the birds would fall out of the nest. I tried to save them but they were too little and the ground was too hard. I wished I could have saved them and it hurt my heart to see them hurt. I made sure I buried them though, if they died, and held a little ceremony for the birds. I imagined the spirit of the bird flying over the dirt near the azalea bush in my grandma’s back yard and held a celebration of the bird’s life, even though the bird did not really live much of a life outside the nest. How sad for a bird to not have much of a life outside the nest!

Anyway, years later, I became increasingly fascinated with all sorts of birds. One of my favorite birds that I learned about from the Discovery Channel is the Maleo from Indonesia. It’s a nearly-extinct bird left by itself when the mother lays the egg and buries it in the ground. Once the egg is dropped off, both mom and dad are ‘outta there. But if you can believe it – this bird incubates itself in the soil and is able to fly the minute it hatches from the egg. It takes flight all on its own and is able to flee from potential predators and forage for food. Lonely? Maybe. Remarkable? Definitely. I would love to go to the Bronx Zoo and visit these fascinating birdies.

If you could be any bird, what type would YOU be?