There really should be warnings of gang activity posted at the park

When it comes to animals, I’m a wuss, a softie.

I’m also apparently Tippi Hedren’s potential stunt double.

Let me explain.

In my household, when breads go bad, when crackers lose their crunch and popcorn its punch, I think birds. I gather up the goodies for a feeding at the shore. Or Wright Park, in the ‘hood where I work.

So, scanning the park one cool afternoon, I spy three crows lunching on worms. “That’ll do,” I think, pulling over and parking.

I saunter over with a plastic bag containing an entire bag of popped Oroville Reddenbacher and stale bread hosting a mold colony.   

I stand, oh, 100 feet from the feasting crows. Crows are bright animals. A little too bright. They’re the Einsteins in the feathered kingdom. They don’t need flashing neon arrows pointing them to a food source, neither loud announcements over a PA system. They get it.

They need only see you. See a wave of a hand. See food. And they’re off! En masse. Yakking to one another in crow communique to their kin near and far and spreading the word. (Ah but were humans this bright. But I digress …)

So at a distance, one handful of popcorn is tossed to gain the attention of the trio.

Their peripheral vision must be outstanding because even though they seem not to be looking my way, at all, they register it. And cutely hop my direction.

By the time the second handful’s barely hit the grass, out of nowhere, I swear, a frenzied 100 or more swoop in. Out of nowhere. Black crows and white seagulls swarming and landing with the precision of military aircraft. Not only yards but inches my feet. Out of nowhere. I cannot emphasize that enough.

Now I’m encircled by 200 little beady eyes in big bird bodies.

Just to be clear, neither bird is shy. Seagulls are scavengers. Survivalists. And they didn’t get that way by being polite. By stepping aside to allow other breeds to feed first.

And crows, well, they’re just too smart for our own good.

So I’m being not only stared down but approached by these big birds not terribly undersized against my own stature. Birds in a gang with an attitude of Gimme What You Got.


I don’t think in my entire life I’ve ever thrown popcorn and bread as hurriedly as I did that day. I like to make sure everyone gets some, as much as possible anyway. I like to tear up the bread and throw this way and that.

But when in Bird Gangland, you bend the rules for your own safety.

“Forget the pieces,” I thought with speedy reaches into the bag. “Just feed ‘em and get the heck out in one piece while you still can.” Halfway through, I wasn’t even bothering with pieces, I was tossing slices by the halves that were being gulped whole as quickly as I got 'em thrown.

Then the bag was empty, and I backing out for my life. Try that in a crowd that associates you with food. Darn birds kept comin’ at me.

I eased back, one foot in back of the other, gingerly, never lifting my eyes riveted on the winged creatures for a second. I am not exaggerating. It really happened this way. 

You can't look away, especially from them gulls. You gotta watch 'em with a hawk's eye. Especially with several gang kingpins operating the front lines who were poised to attack if I looked at 'em the wrong way. You can bet your booty I didn't. They sure kept me in my place.

Finally I got out, I got free, though a number continued to tail me to the street, even after I'd made it clear "no more eats!"

I jumped into my Subaru and hauled ass while eyeballing the sky to make sure I wasn't being followed. Hey, I wouldn't put it past 'em.

And that’s how I became the stunt double for Tippi Hedren in the Hitchcock classic, "The Birds."

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