♪ A bird –! (and a new contest!)♪
Notice I said A bird and not THE bird….
Yesterday (Day 4) is one that will live in infamy, so we’re not going there… Day 5 was spent driving up and down the Port Saint Nick Road outside Craig looking for birds for the 112th Annual Christmas Bird Count (I think I got that anniversary number right–it was staggering, I remember that!). 167 birds, 15 separate species ended up on our list. Ravens, Eagles, Crows, Mew Gulls, Herring Gulls, Pelagic Cormorants, Loons, and more… We saw most of the birds on the water, and as we walked down toward Pit 62 (a gravelly beach). In other places — especially where there were houses — it was quiet. Eerily quiet. Nearly disturbingly quiet.
“Maybe there are too many predators…,” my husband mused.
I blinked. “That would keep them from even singing?”
Maybe … Or maybe they just knew that two people armed with field guides and high powered binoculars were out in the misty rain hunting them down like the … birds… they are. It did make me think about birds in horror lit, though. Everyone knows about The Raven — heck, most of us can quote it at you. Ravens in Alaska, though, are different — and I don’t just mean the folklore and the whole stealing-of-the-sun rap. Ravens are different in different places here — in Fairbanks, the ravens didn’t talk like they do here. One town over from us is a town called Klawock. Listen to the locals pronounce it, and it mostly comes out as “Ko’wok.” What the hell? Well, it’s named for one of the most prevalent sounds ravens make down here. Granted, I have a raven who sits in a tree in my yard and replies, “No!” clear as a bell whenever another bird grouses at him. Some mornings, I just like to go outside with my coffee and listen to “Ko’wok!” Pause. “No!” Pause “Ko…..wok!” Pause. “No!” You get the idea….
Seabirds are not without their place in the genre, too. The albatross–that personification of burden, that mythological vessel of the souls of lost sailors, is a great device. Actually, sailors and fishermen are such a superstitious bunch, it’s easy to see how portentously placed birds give them pause for thought. Gulls have the same effect — especially when the gulls behave strangely; it’s all a matter of perception, especially when you’ve been awake for 18 hours at a stretch…. Then, there’s also the Hitchcock classic The Birds. Based on what was, at the time, hailed as the best horror novella by a living writer, The Birds also drew inspiration from a real-life attack on Monterey in 1961 by deranged seabirds that had ingested contaminated plankton.
So… the next time you’re out and about — whether it’s looking for birds or out at the park or stepping out of your car, look up and around. They’re watching you, and they know more than you think they do ….
A quick writing prompt contest — submit a scene, keep it short and sweet, creepy and disturbing, or funny or, well, you get the idea…. and you could win THIS:
Prompt: He blinked and looked around. “What the hell is up with the birds?” he wondered.
Post your entry here in the comments or email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
And enjoy the 12 Days of Creepfest Blog Hop! Check out all the participants! Psst — they’re all there listed in the right side bar. Lots more posts, contests, giveaways, and MORE! Happy Hoppin’!