The Man Who Talks To Birds


bio_dave_hingsburgerIt was a surprisingly warm day for October. Joe and I decided that we’d head over to our favourite place to have tea, a shop with a very small patio. We lucked out and got a table. Joe went in and got our drinks and we set about chatting and people watching. It was a lovely way to spend a late afternoon on a wonderful fall day.

Shortly after we arrived a man came along, with a great big bag of bird seed. He reached into the bag and pulled out a large handful and threw it over the sidewalk and patio. Birds flew from every direction and began pecking at the seeds. He then set the bag down, bowed to the sun, and began talking quickly in whispered words to the birds. It might have been a foreign language, but I think not, I think he was speaking directly to the birds in a language that, oddly, they seemed to understand.

The birds, unlike many of the people sitting around the patio, did not seem to be afraid of this man. This rail thin man. This man who walked quickly and slowly at the same time. This man who saw only the birds. He saw a bird, alone, not eating seed over near my table, off to my right side. He came over to the bird speaking to it passionately, pointing to where the seed had been cast. But then, the bird showing neither fear or interest, he bowed to the bird and came back to where the other birds had gathered.

Many others, out on the patio, quickly gathered up their things and left. One or two not liking the birds, all the rest quite fearful of the man who had done nothing but toss seed and talk passionately with the birds. He scared them. Neither Joe and I were scared of the man or of the birds. I am a closet bread tosser to birds in parks person, I like birds, I like seeing them fed. Feed The Birds was my favourite song from Mary Poppins.

As we were leaving we passed him as he was packing up his bag of seed to head out somewhere else, to some other flock, I said to him that I had enjoyed watching the birds and then thanked him for creating this experience for me. He hadn’t seemed to be listening but when he heard the thank you he seemed startled and then looked at me closely. He said, “aren’t they beautiful, did you know they could fly?” I said that I did. He nodded seriously, “Good, it’s important that you know.”

I felt sad for all those who had fled this man who talks to birds. Because even though he talks to birds, people need to know that he talks to people too.”

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