They rooin my day!


A Bird-of-Paradise lists her woes, (c) Young World, The Hindu, 2012

A female Bird of Paradise lists her woes — constant disturbance at work, and of course the ever preening male of the species!


The world is full of bothersome creatures! There is one in my habitat that leaps down from tree tops. Heavens, aren’t they bugging! I just cannot work with them around.

I am with the National Geographic. The assignment I am currently working on or should I say, trying to work on, is about the birds of New Guinea. I have been given this prestigious assignment primarily because of my reporting skills. Perhaps, the fact that I am a bird endemic to this island also helped. But never mind why I landed the job. The question is will I be able to complete it with the numerous distractions around me?

Aristotle, I have stopped my work to write this letter. I hope that if I pour out my frustrations here, I just might be sane enough to get back to my writing.

It is hard for me to say who makes me madder — the tree-kangaroos or the males of many species of birds of paradise. No, that isn’t true — I do know who irritates me more but merely out of family loyalty, I cannot admit that in the open. The vain, good-for-nothing dandies just make my plain, maroon-brown feathers turn purple with rage. I just hate losers. I am a hard-working single parent — building a nest, incubating my eggs and caring for my chicks. This is true for all of us — the females, I mean. And guess what the males do? Just prance around in fine feathers.

And then the male!

The males of my species, the Greater Bird of Paradise, wear the gaudiest plumage of maroon-brown with a yellow crown, an emerald coloured throat, a bunch of golden-orange, erect rump feathers and two long, black, wired (or weird?) tail feathers, and do silly dances and acrobats to get our attention. Even as I type this, I see one fool is getting ready to give a performance.

Let me tweet this event to you.

He is looking my way.

He has found a bare area on the forest floor below my perch.

He is now clearing his stage of fallen leaves.

The floor is perfect but his dance.

Horrors! He slides, hops, walks bows; he flaps his wings and fans out his rump feathers. How extremely foolish this loser looks!

Well, I shall ignore him and tell you about those annoying leapers.

Tree-kangaroos are marsupials, that is, the mothers carry their young ones in their belly pouches. They are about two-feet long with an equally long, thick tail. They look cute in their grey-black fur, rounded ears, sitting on tree branches munching away on fruits and leaves. But they surely give me a heart attack every time they decide to leap 20 or 30 feet down to a lower branch or some 60 feet, all the way down to the forest floor. Secretly and fervently, I pray one of them would land on those wannabe Michael Jacksons.

Wow, that really helped! I am de-stressed. I feel good.

Ms Bird of Paradise

Reply from Aristotle

Let us not get insulting!

Do you know how these birds got their scientific name, Paradisaea apoda? In the 19th century, traders from Europe sent back dead birds for their exotic plumage, but with their legs cut off. Everybody thought that the birds were legless (apoda) and that they were always on wings, never to touch the earth until they fell down dead. Hence, Bird of Paradise.

Published as part of a series titled ‘Aristotle’s Mailbag’ in Young World, The Hindu, dt. October 15, 2012


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