Award-winning author Murdoch Hughes inaugurates the “Paramblings” section of our blog with an interview with a non-flying bird…
It has always seemed strange to me that there are birds who don’t fly. They have all the equipment, at least they did before eons of sitting around not flying. What were they waiting for? Surely the flying conditions were good enough during at least one of those eons. Of course I’ve seen pilots like that on launch.
Having little brains doesn’t seem to be the reason why there are birds who don’t fly, nor does a lack of big cojones, as much as male pilots try to perpetuate that myth. A flying insect with a big brain and big cojones is an interesting image, but you’re going to have to show me a photo that hasn’t been digitally altered.
Despite being a featherless, free-flight pilot, I am interested in birds of all feathers. We have a couple of bird feeders that I keep well-stocked for a wide assortment of bird species. I do it partly for the flying karma. We get some fancy birds like a pair of Pileated woodpeckers, and lesser varieties, like polite little nuthatches who are dainty eaters and fly off into a tree with one sunflower seed at a time.
A few weeks ago a golden-throated chicken of some variety showed up and started scratching away beneath the feeder, eating the residue of the gobbling finches. I had a nice chat with her, having perfected the language of chickens growing up on a farm. Between you and me, I didn’t mention to her that eating underneath birds of flight was the equivalent of humans eating at a Jack-In-The-Box or Seven-Eleven. I did throw out some black sunflower seeds in a more hygienic area, just for her. That’s how I got the interview.
Chicken Stew: “Buk-buk buuukk.”
Interviewer: “Buk-buk. Say, do you mind if we speak English, Stew? My Chicken is a bit rusty.”
Chicken Stew: “Buk-bu Proooockkk. You’d think if you wanted an interview with a noble chicken you’d at least learn the language.”
Interviewer: “Pruk-pruk. You’re right and I apologize. The other thing is, most of my readers can’t speak a word of Chicken. And they’re very interested in learning about a fascinating creature like you. They will be shocked and amazed to learn you can speak English.”
Chicken Stew: “Puk-puk. All right, if you put it like that. As far as speaking English goes, there are lots of small-brained humans that can speak it. Why not a chicken?”
Interviewer: “Why not indeed? By the way, Chicken Stew is an interesting name. Where did you get it anyway?
Chicken Stew: “You know perfectly well I got it from you. Are you trying to be funny, you big jerk? It’s not very original either. My real name is, Karuck-Luk-Duk. Pruk-pruk.”
Interviewer: (Discreetly changing the subject, I resisted claiming her name meant Chicken Stew in English. There’s not much room in a small brain for a sense of humor.). “My readers are all pilots, so I hope you don’t mind my asking the question on all of our minds? Why can’t you fly?”
Chicken Stew: “Another stupid question. Puk-puk-pruk. Are you sure there is an actual big brain in that over-sized cranium of yours? Maybe it’s filled with mullet and chaff? Pruk.”
Interviewer: “Hey, no need to get rude, chicken-lips.”
Chicken Stew: (Flopping around, raising dust and losing a few floating feathers.) “Perrrrukkkk-prukkk-bukruk!”
Interviewer: “Sorry Stew, didn’t mean to ruffle your feathers, but you started it. Are you going to answer the question or not?”
Chicken Stew: “Well, keep it civil. Buk-puk. If you must know, I don’t fly because I choose not to.”
Interviewer: “C’mon, admit it. Chickens can’t fly any more than ostriches or penguins.”
Chicken Stew: “Buk-buk-buk-puk. There you go again with the insults. Comparing chickens to ostriches. Now those are some truly big dumb birds. Reminds me of you flying humans, who are merely bird-wannabees at best.”
Interviewer: “Okay, sorry about the ostriches. But penguins are pretty hip birds. They just had a whole feature-length flick made about them.”
Chicken Stew: “Huh! Pruk-buk-buk. More like fish than true birds.”
Interviewer: “Okay. What species of bird do you admire?”
Chicken Stew: “Pruk. Seagulls are neat birds. Inferior to chickens of course, but they do lay big eggs.”
Interviewer: “You still haven’t answered my question. Why don’t you fly?”
Chicken Stew: “Puk-puk. If you must know, flying is too dangerous.”
Interviewer: “Too dangerous? You’re a bird for gosh sakes. You’re supposed to fly. Even I can fly.”
Chicken Stew: “My point exactly. Pruk. We used to fly, but once flying fish and weird mammals like flying squirrels and now you crazy humans got in the air, we gave it up. Pruk-pruk. You and your wild friends soaring around up there without a clue, crashing into trees and stuff. You don’t even take the time to learn how to perch properly.”
Interviewer: “How do you know? The flying site is a long way from here.”
Chicken Stew: “A homing pigeon told me.”
Interviewer: “What did he say?”
Chicken Stew: “She! Puk-puk-puk! It was a female pigeon you ball-brained idiot.”
Interviewer: “All right, sorry. What did she say?”
Chicken Stew: “She told me I was lucky I didn’t fly. She said you humans just fly around up there all willy-nilly without a clue as to your function. Buk-buk-buk.”
Interviewer: “What do you mean, function?”
Chicken Stew: “Exactly. You have no idea. Prak! Even those horrible creatures, the chicken-hawks…at least they have a function, evil though it may be.”
I was getting tired of trying to make sense out of this thin-lipped little non-flying egg-squatter’s squawking.
Interviewer: “Admit it, Stew, you don’t fly because you’re scared.”
Chicken Stew: “Prak. Well duh. They don’t call us chickens for nothing, but what’s that make you? A cousin to a red-butt baboon. Buk-buk-buk-Prakkkkik!!!”
Interviewer: (That was chicken laughter, such as it is. It’s hard to laugh properly without lips.) “Never mind bird brain, shoo, get out of here Shoo. Shoo. This interview is over.”
Chicken Stew: (Running as I toss my Hanwag boot at her.) “Praaaak-prakkkk-prakkkk.”
Good riddance! Who the heck’s crazy idea was it to try to interview a chicken anyway? They don’t even know themselves why they crossed the stupid road, let alone have a good excuse for not flying.
I decided to drop by the pub for a beer and a big mess of happy hour chicken wings. At least those chickens were good for something. Maybe I’d invite Chicken Stew over for dinner some night. Praaaak my ass.