Birds and Air Rats and Four Legged Pests
By: Garland Davis
Many of the world’s birds are beautiful in their plumage or graceful flight. Many hobbyists, more commonly known as “birders” spend countless hours in field and forest attempting to sight and photograph the lovely creatures. John James Audubon devoted his life to cataloging and sketching America’s plethora of birds.
One of the more fascinating, birds is the Pacific Golden Plover. In Hawaii, the bird is known as the Kolea. They are a migratory bird whose breeding habitat is the Arctic Tundra from northernmost Asia into western Alaska. It nests on the ground in dry open areas. The Kolea winters in Hawaii, Japan and other temperate and tropical areas. When in Hawaii the birds remain solitary and guard a territory from other birds and Kolea. They return to the same territory each year throughout their life.
Another fascinating bird is the red-headed Hawaiian Cardinal. This is really an import from Brazil brought in by the early planters. A pretty bird.
Most of the native birds of Hawaii were driven to extinction by the predators imported by the early sugar planters. The sugar planters imported mongoose to control the rats and mice in the sugar fields. They didn’t think it through. Rats and mice are nocturnal and feed at night and sleep in the day while the mongoose are just the opposite. The two never met. The mongoose devastated the populations of native ground nesting birds by eating the eggs and chicks
Many birds are domestic pests. I know that every one of you who has departed San Francisco or other west coast ports remembers the cloud of seagulls following the ship. The further the ship moved from the coast the fewer birds were following. The old hands held on until the twelve-mile limit (probably have to wait for the fifty-mile limit in our newer, “more friendly to the environment Navy,” was reached. As the first mess cook with a garbage can exits the superstructure and headed toward the fantail the cloud of birds reacts with pandemonium and fly crazily around the sky yelling in Bird, “Hurry up and dump it, asshole.” After the shitcan smorgasbord, they leave the ship and head to the nearest landfill dessert bar. This is their normal hangout until they spot an outbound ship.
Honolulu is over populated by pigeons. This is the result of people, mostly tourists, feeding the disgusting creatures. Pigeons are the most amazingly panicky and dopey creatures. They live a pretty simple lifestyle. The rules are not hard to understand, even for a pigeon:
(1) Walk up to anyone sitting and eating and move aimlessly back and forth begging for a crumb.
(2) Continue walking around pecking at cigarette butts, gum wrappers, pebbles, and other inappropriate items.
(3) Take fright when someone walks nearby and fly off to a girder or street light.
(4) Take a shit.
Another flying creature impossible to avoid in Honolulu are the Mynah birds. The advantage they have over pigeons and seagulls is they are fun to watch. I don’t understand why there are so many of them. Throw them some food and if there are two or more of them, they fight over the food. While they are busy disputing ownership of the food, the sparrows, the red-headed cardinals, and the red assed bulbuls steal the food. You would think Mynah birds would starve to death. When they do eat, there is an established pecking order. They will encircle a morsel and peck in order. If one pecks out of turn, all the others jump on him and kick his ass. Meanwhile, the sparrows again make off with the largesse.
A warning, Do Not Feed Pigeons or Mynah birds. Thousands of them will show up every day for meals. They will nest in your attic and eaves and will shit all over you PV panels, your lanai furniture, your lanai, sidewalks, drive, and especially your car. There is something about a car that brings on diarrhea in most birds. The cloud of birds will ensure that you become a favorite with all your neighbors.
But the most irritating bird in the Hawaiian Islands is the “Yard Buzzard,” the feral chicken. Almost every neighborhood has at least a rooster. The mother fucker begins crowing at approximately 0300 and crows continuously until at least 2100. One would think that with the large Filipino population with their love of Chicken Adobo we wouldn’t have as much of a problem. The do-gooders feed the feral cats and since they are well fed they refuse to hunt chickens. The wild mongooses (the plural is mongooses) do as much as they can to control the chickens but are overwhelmed. It would take a division of Colonel Sanders employees armed with deep fryers and original recipe breading to make a dent in the feral chicken population
The damn cats are a pain also. They think I maintain my flower beds as comfort areas for their convenience. The city came up with a brilliant idea to control them. They trap them, neuter the Tom cats and then release them. Just not as many guy cats vying for the available female cats. I know because there is an area right under my bedroom window where female cats hang out and the Tom cats come to get laid.
Things are not always as they seem in paradise. When you are visiting the islands, do me a favor: Don’t feed the effen’ pigeons. Or the cats.
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A native of North Carolina, Garland Davis has lived in Hawaii since 1987. He always had a penchant for writing but did not seriously pursue it until recently. He is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, where he majored in Business Management. Garland is a thirty-year Navy retiree and service-connected Disabled Veteran.