Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Hobbit VS. The World - Vol 2: Down with Birds

The Hobbit VS. the World is a place where I can vent and explain some of the idiosyncrasies that make me me. Sometimes it will be about things that pi$$ me off and other times it will be about my deficiencies as a person. Read, comment... whatever... these are just thoughts of little consequence.


I think I may have mentioned briefly in the past that this hobbit is afraid of birds. The official terminology is ornithophobic. On an average day, it's not terribly debilitating, just annoying. Basically, anything with feathers and anything that flies makes me freak out. Feather pillows, butterflies, even Big Bi.rd... and don't get me started on the feather boa my sister bought for me to wear at my bridal shower... UGH! And I don't hate birds... I think they are beautiful. I just want to see them through my window, at a distance, and not up close and personal. (Moths are another story... they can go to hell)

I don't have a conscious memory of when it started, altho I have been told that it probably stems from an incident when I was about a year old. We lived in a very old farm house at the time, and the heat register in my nursery did not have a vent cover (what were my parents thinking... very unsafe!). Apparently, a small bird, like a sparrow or a swallow, managed to get down our chimeny pipe and came out through the vent in my room. It flapped around, basically trying to find a way out. My parents heard me screaming and ended up shoo-ing the bird out the window. All I know is, birds scare the tar out of me... always have and likely always will.

Unfortunately, my scary encounters with birds don't stop there. Once when I was 7 or 8 years old, my family decided to go camping in the Cypress Hills. This is a beautiful area in southern Alberta... an island of foothill-like terrain in the midst of the bald-ass prairie. We often camped there, and had the privilege of seeing a great deal of wildlife. Once, I ended up surrounded by what I referred to as some 'big ugly deer' (yeah, they were moose) when I woke up before the rest of my family and snuck out of the trailer. Anyway, there was an occassion when I had to take my younger sister to the outhouse. She hated the outhouse and was terrified that she would fall in. So, she's crying the whole time she's doing her business, and all I want to do is get her to shut up. I hustle her out of the outhouse... right into the midst of a flock of wild turkeys! Ok, so it wasn't a flock... it was a mother and her brood of chicks. All I saw was feathers, beaks and those beady little eyes! I dragged my sister back into the outhouse, where she started to scream again. Meanwhile, I'm having heart palpitations and hyperventilating. Eventually the poor turkeys went on their way, but it was a harrowing few minutes.

My biological mom likes birds a lot. When I was in my mid-teen years, she decided to keep cockatiels as pets. And as you can probably guess, she like to let them out to fly around the apartment. Guess who locked herself in her bedroom?

The city which I refer to as my hometown is known for the multitude of quail that live in the hills. There are restaurants and golf courses named for the silly things. I loved to watch them from my front window. They were everywhere, in huge flocks (I mean hundreds of them). They particularly like low-lying shrubbery and dense bushes, just like several of my neighbours had in their front yards. I can't even begin to count the number of times I was terrified out of my mind by the whole flock taking flight at the same time as I would walk to the bus stop. Imagine the sound of more than a hundred little birds, exploding out of the cedar hedge less than three feet away from you... *shudder* Terrifying, I can assure you!

The last bird-story I want to share is from my time in Florida. Now, I clearly didn't think things through when I decided to accept a job with a church just outside Orlando. I mean, where do all the little (and not so little) birdies go in the winter? South! And where is Florida? South... almost as far south as you can get and still be in North America.

One day I was working in my office, typing away, when I see a shadow go past my window. I glance to my left, expecting to see one of the pastors or one of the teachers from the school our church supported walking by. Was it a person? NO! It was a sandhill crane. Looking in my window at me. Watching me. Can we say panic attack, kids?

Now, if you don't know about sandhill cranes, let me educate you. These are big BIG birds. The one outside my window was almost as tall I am (granted, my hobbit-ish stature doesn't lend itself to comparisons with big scary birds, but you get the idea). It's head was about the size of my fist and it's beak looked at least a mile long. They generally have a wingspan of somewhere between 6 and 7 feet. They mate for life. They are very territorial. VERY territorial.

This particular sandhill crane that was staring at me was one of a pair. That's right... they had chosen the soccer field right outside my office as their nesting ground. I was trapped in my office (my only door exitted right out onto the soccer field). I called up to the main office to advise them of the situation, trying to sound calm and professional and generally not like I was going to have a panic attack. Then I closed the blinds and attempted to put the birds out of my mind. The kids in the school had to stay inside for recess that day. Animal control was summarily called and they dispatched a crew to come and remove the monstrous beasts. Eventually I felt safe enough to leave my office.

Now, before you ask... yes, I was subjected to that awful movie "The Birds" by some friends when I was in high school. The stuff of my nightmares, I assure you. But I did enjoy "March of the Penguins" very much (except for the scenes with other birds attacking the babies). Go figure.


  1. I've heard of people being scared of birds, but feather-pillow phobia puts you on a whole new level!! lol...thanks for sharing!

  2. i am glad to hear you are remaining optimistic :)

    and i hear you about birds.....i am not scared per se, but they gross me out. they are pretty, but i don't want to be near them. I was in San Antonio in December, and there are these areas where there are literally thousands and thousands of are was at a shopping center (outdoor) where we went. i was so freaked, cause they do those synchronized flights and such.....yuck.

  3. What an interesting story. Thanks for shedding light on your phobia.

    I like your FF counter chart. :)


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