Flamingo pic (the dining Horned Bills made themselves no friends)

Took this photo at the zoo a couple of weeks ago before the computer went down. Click on it for the larger version. Love the bird 4th from the left. I don’t know what was up, don’t know that much about flamingos, but every few minutes they would all suddenly start doing flamingo squawks and stretch their necks long and rigid.

The Great Horrned Bill had nothing much to do with me that day. He and his mate had mice they were eating. My mother-in-law was with us that day and had difficulty with the birds eating mice and wandered off saying she couldn’t watch. With one exception, the female of every couple which approached (while I was there) expressed astonishment and loud ughness at the Horned Bills eating mice, and the dead (white) rat sitting in front of them, and walked off saying that they couldn’t watch, that it was horrible. The Horned Bills had no idea their dietary requirements were making them enemies.

For some reason it is usually (note, usually) the male of the human species that reads the displayed material on the exhibit, and the female either expresses approval or disgust at what they’re observing. The males tend not to offer opinions on the exhibits in terms of like or dislike. They say, “What is this?” and then answer for everyone concerned, reading highlights of the literature aloud and then may offer some guesses on behaviors in an authoritative tone. Except if it is a mother and child and no male adult around, then sometimes the woman will read for the child the displayed literature.

Hearing over and over, “That’s disgusting,” I had wondered how many of these individuals were thinking about what they were seeing, and what they were saying, and how many were simply spouting out a rather Pavlovian response. Something they’ve heard numerous times–though could be maybe even one time–and when it comes their turn the brain keys similar prior scene in the memory bank of another female’s “Oh gross” (an aunt, a mother, a childhood friend, the television) and out it pops, oh gross, and off they walk.

Difficult to imagine anyone rejecting a bird because it eats meat.

I doubt these individuals were vegetarians.

I imagine some of these same individuals think hawks and eagles are beautiful and noble birds. Then the brain sputters, goes gack and shuts down when seeing said bird with a meal in its talons. No attempt is probably made to resolve the conflict. “Fine bird. Noble bird. Eew, noble bird is a predator on the food chain, like me! Can’t deal. Foul bird. Still noble as long as I don’t think about what it actually is.” In the mind’s photo album labeled, “Noble Birds” they retire the temporarily highlighted image of the dining noble bird to the trash and, walking on, replace with the preferred majestic bird soaring.

Several times it almost popped out of my mouth, “What did you eat for dinner last night?” but each time decided, no, forget it, some things are just too obvious to remark upon.

Actually, what I wanted to say was, “How wearily predictable can you be. Engage your brain, will you?”

Just so you could see how appalling was the spectacle, I took a pic.

I’m sure I’ve probably said, “Oh, yuck” as well, some other day. Maybe. At least I can imagine myself walking up, say, to see one of the reptiles eating a rat, and out of my mouth popping, “Oh, yuck”.

People are funny that way.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

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