Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jail bird

I am mortified! All I ever wanted to do was to make sure my flock would have this one perfect little tract of forest forever. When the “For Sale” sign went up, I was frantic—you never know what people are going to do once they take over a forest.

I’d been reading about capitalism and decided that although it’s not quite the way we chickadees do things, we might as well give it a try. What could we lose? One of our starling friends had been saving up money—he’d been finding it in some money contraption, and as we always say, “Finders, Keepers.” He wasn’t worried about losing his own trees—starlings can always find some place to live. But he said we were welcome to all the money he could find. He said that as fun as it was to collect, money is vastly overrated—it’s not the least bit edible and is worthless for insulating a roost or nest hole.

As it turns out, even though he’s been collecting what he kept calling “quarters” for years, we didn’t have enough to make a serious offer, but a raven overheard us, and since she was pretty worried about the forest, too, she sent her kids and friends out and they found some of that paper stuff that turns out to be even more valuable than the round stuff—who knew? And thanks to the Internet, we opened a bank account, made an offer on the property, and closed the deal, just like that.

It was wonderful feeling like this little piece of land was ours not only by our traditional standards but also by human standards. They couldn’t take it from us no matter what, ever again.

But then—not even a week after a Pileated Woodpecker stored the deed in a big old cottonwood—some beavers from out of town moved in and started gnawing on my cavity tree! I mean, holy crap! I figured what’s one tree—I’m pretty good at carving out new cavities if I do say so myself—but a Blue Jay got them to admit they were planning on making a huge dam, and would be taking out a whole mess of trees and flooding everything. We tried to tell them they had no right—we even pulled out the deed and waved it in front of them, but they just laughed! We at least talked them into postponing the inevitable, thanks to a couple of well-aimed rocks the ravens dropped on the big male’s head. We quickly put together an ad on Craig’s List, and sold the property in two days. What a relief! We really did need the money if we were going to buy a forest somewhere else.

When people buy up land, they usually chop down the trees anyway—how were we supposed to know that they sell these trees for money? A couple of months after we moved out, we got this sternly-worded email—something about fraud and false advertising. And next thing I know, here I am. Or was. Those good old ravens broke me out, but I’m marked as a jailbird forever. My mother was right. Money corrupts. We didn’t know what else to do with it so we donated it all to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and that’s it for my first and last experiment with capitalism. Money. Who needs it?

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