Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sad Birds of Japan

            Meet Jim. Jim’s a nice guy. Jim isn’t picky about what he eats; he’s an omnivore. Jim is pretty sociable and well behaved, so nobles of Japan’s Heian period (794-1185) liked to keep his kind as pets. Heian means “peace”, and the period is celebrated for its poetry and literature. Brown-eared Bulbuls were a part of that. Jim is also a pollinator, which is unusual for birds his size, and he can eat the fruits of 53 different plants, helping disperse their seeds. As such Jim is a good friend of the forest, too. Now this would make Jim an esteemed and accomplished member of society, but underneath this respectable façade lies a secret. You see Jim has a problem. He’s seen things. Terrible things.

          Meet Jim, the bird who suffers from PTSD. While everyone else is enjoying the multitudes of treasures and pleasures that Japan has to offer, Jim can be heard reliving the horrors of his troubled past. His long, high-pitched screams will wake you up in the morning, or they will jar you out of your daydreams. This has led many to call Jim a “Noisy Bulbul”, which is rather insensitive considering his condition. Poor Jim, listen to him. Only the trees of the forest know what Jim has seen, what Jim has done. Since I don’t speak Entish, I guess we’ll never know his secret.

You might meet Jim in Japan, Korea, Eastern China or Taiwan. So please, if you see Jim, try to talk him into getting the professional help he needs. We’ve all suffered enough.

            Now meet a lovely owl whose exact name I’ve forgotten. He or she, let’s say “she” this time and call her Kim, is a Spectacled Owl, found mostly in South America. The poor thing was a newcomer to the owl café (yes, owl cafés are a thing in Japan), having arrived only three weeks before our visit. Far from being welcomed by its brethren, they had bullied Kim mercilessly day and night. The staff said this was because owls are territorial, but also because they found her dark face scary and intimidating. The owls all glared at Kim, especially the “queen” of the café, who never broke eye contact with her. It became a game to see how far she would go to keep glaring at Kim. She cared about nothing except giving Kim the evil eye. That was her whole day. Poor Kim sat on her perch, barely daring to move. We felt sorry for Kim. We shouldn’t have.
            It turns out that Spectacled Owls aren’t well liked in the wild either. They are solitary animals, getting together only with their own species and then only to mate. While owls usually answer or react to the calls of other owls even from different species, the Spectacled Owl probably wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire. The Spectacled Owl often can’t even be bothered to answer calls from its own species. The only interaction it wants is sexual. If you’re not making a booty call, the Spectacled Owl does not give a shit about you. This anti-social behavior starts early. Spectacled Owls usually lay one or two eggs, but the weakest one rarely survives since its stronger sibling forces it to starve or kills it outright.



         Well I can’t dislike an owl; I still love you Kim. And I think it’s mutual, just look at the affection in her eyes.

Oops, not that one, maybe it’s more visible in the next one.
Damn. Just, trust me.

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