The Best Time I Interacted With a Bird

by The Hairpin

There’s a place by my house affectionately called Cemetery Park. (Its real name is Yukich Park, but it’s built over exhumed GRAVES!) It’s a beautiful park, with a football field, fountains, ponds, and a farmers’ market, and it’s also home to a homicidal bird.

One day when the weather was nice, my free therapy group (I’m broke and crazy) went to Cemetery Park to hash some shit out. My group has all types (I’m just sad and lazy), and a few of them were hesitant to go because of the whole cemetery thing and also how some among us have fragile emotional constitutions. (Basically, it was going to be a disaster even before the spectacle with the bird.) So while everyone else is chilling in the grass, talking feelings, I’m riding my bike around a tree, paying no attention to the FIVE WARNING SIGNS about the crazy bird. The bird comes out — as it is obviously wont to do — and starts chasing me and this hot guy from my group who was riding with me. He starts swearing at the bird — like crazy people do! Then, a girl in my group who is like… hardcore crazy… starts rocking back and forth because she thinks she’s done something to cause this. So basically this bird undoes months of therapy for like half the people in my group — all while I’m on the ground, because I’ve fallen off my bike laughing at the entire scene. And the “normals” (that’s what crazy people call you guys! Spoiler alert!) were staring at ALL OF US, wondering why a team of insane people decided to choose a time when they were there with their normal, impressionable families to make a fool of the entire park.

I feel kind of bad because the same incident that messed up these people’s progress made me feel better than any of the group sessions ever had. A bird basically cured my crippling depression for a few days. Definitely The Best Time I Interacted With a Bird. — Becca O’Neal

At some point during my prepubescent childhood, after negging out on buying us a dog, my dad attempted to pacify me and my sister with a cockatiel. We named her Cody. For the first two weeks all we were supposed to do in terms of interacting with her was sit by the cage and play a “Teach Your Cockatiel To Talk!” cassette, which was basically just a Shirley MacLaine-esque voice saying “Hello! How are you today?” over and over.

During Cody’s first week in the Bans abode I found myself alone in the house. I don’t like being alone, I like attention, preferably human, but I’ll take bird, whatever. So I went in my sister’s room, sat on the bed across from Cody, turned on the MacLaine tape, and started making friendly eyes. At first she shuffled back and forth on her ledge nervously, but after some time went by she seemed pretty fucking curious to meet me flesh-to-flesh. So I opened the cage door and she wobbled out.

That’s when I made what was in retrospect an overeager grab for her, because she took off with a terrified “bekaw!”, flew directly into the wall, and dropped to the floor, hard. She scrambled under the bed and I started crying — “Did I just seriously kill the new family pet?” — and then spent 45 minutes on my stomach, cursing, trying grab her with a peck-proof oven mitt.

The next morning my little sister woke me up at an ungodly hour to say that she was woken up at an even ungodlier hour by Cody screeching “Ucking bird! Ucking bird! Ucking bird!” My sister was pissed, understandably, and still is, because to this day Cody has never uttered another human word. It was like her own little avian “the horror! the horror!” Heart of Darkness moment. — Lauren Bans

Once a pigeon fell off a building and hit me on the head. I was travelling in Brazil at the time, walking along a busy street in downtown Rio. I shrieked and clutched my head in my hands, looking first up at the sky and then down in bewilderment at this grimy little beast squirming on the sidewalk.

As I was coming to terms with the fact that I had just been hit in the head by a pigeon, I looked around and saw that people had stopped to stare at me. At first with astonishment and then with what looked like suspicion. One old guy was even muttering to himself (probably something along the lines of, “Evidently this stupid tourist has deliberately sucked a pigeon into her skull”) and gravely shaking his head.

I wanted to say to these people, “Actually, I never usually get hit in the head by pigeons!” but I didn’t know how to say that in Portuguese, so I just stood there gasping until the people went away and the pigeon rolled over and limped off. Eventually I pulled myself together and went to the museum I’d been on my way to, and afterwards even treated myself to a beer — all pretty gross considering I almost certainly still had pigeon bits in my hair. Incidentally, getting hit in the head by a pigeon feels not at all dissimilar to getting hit in the head by a hacky sack — which happened to me once also. — Sophie Quick

I drove twelve hours from New York to Tennessee to make a sparrow costume for a boyfriend’s dachshund and attend the Dachshund Festival. In the car I ate overly preserved apple slices from a Walmart and talked my boyfriend through the craft store. “Feathers that match her fur, as many as they have. Some kind of coated wire or pipe cleaners for armature. Feathers that MATCH her fur. No, not white ones. Like a hundred hot glue sticks.” When I arrived in the damp dawn, I got right to work and then took just a little nap. We missed the costume contest, but everyone, humans and dachshunds alike, heartily agreed we would have won. The feathers totally matched her fur. — Bonnie Downing

Birdemic-ish photo by Becca O’Neal, sparrow photo by Bonnie Downing