Friday, October 17, 2014

Birds and Such

Thanks to the combination of people leaving doors open while painting and the sudden onset of cold weather as we sailed up to Superior, a number of birds have been flying into the house. I had one fly straight into the open porthole of my room. It landed on the arm of the chair by my bed and just sort of looked at me for a moment. It was brown and as round as it was long, but when I got up, both the notion of closing the window to trap it and of grabbing my phone to get a photo running through my mind, it flew right back out. They are more of a problem in the galley, since we have to chase them out.

Curiously enough, it is the sicker ones that are harder to get out, since you can get all the way up to them and sometimes even poke them without them flying off. One tired bird landed on a peice of spare equipment right by the captain's dinner chair (not actually any different from a normal chair, but reserved for a particular ass) and was sleeping on its side, legs pointing out, and breathing heavily. The captain didn't seem to notice his dining companion, but I did and spent the whole of dinner wondering if I should do something about the bird. I ended up leaving it alone until after dinner, when I picked it up and placed it outside. I don't expect that bird to be long for this world.

Pirate captains have parrots, but merchant captains have little round birds that are probably pretty close to death.
The steward told me a story in light of this of his time on a grain ship on Lake Ontario. He said that after loading, one or two hundred of those tiny round birds would come down onto deck to eat the little scraps of grain. They would come down all happy and eat their fill, then they would go for a drink of water in the lake. That water would cause the grain in thier bellies to expand and rupture their stomaches, and twenty four hours later there would be one or two hundred tiny adorable dead birds on the deck. The steward says that he was the only one who seemed bother by this, and that the deck hands would just casually rinse them off the deck like any other debris.

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