Thursday, January 25, 2007


The quotient of cute is exceedingly high on this blog today.
I have made a couple trips to Midway Atoll. Tagging and tracking Galapagos sharks. Banding Laysan albatross.
Taken hundreds of pictures. Each photograph has a story behind it.
There is a story to this bird.
There is a story to everything.
I will tell you that story.

5:30 and 70 degrees.
My coffee at my side. I am waiting for a knock on Orion's hull. My neighbor. She has three children under the age of 6. Two are in diapers. They live on a 32 foot boat. I think she deserves a cup of coffee -- so I give her one.
I also think she deserves medication.
But that is just my opinion.
We were talking about stories.
The tale I tell will not be the one you describe. We may start with an identical idea and the end result will be entirely different.
That is why I do not mind the prospect of someone (gasp) taking my idea. Ideas are free. They are plentiful. They are there for the taking.
So what is your story about the baby bird?
Abandoned by his mummy?
Learning to fly?
Captured by a human?
Cold. Friendless. In danger.
Shaking with fear.
What's that you ask?
Tell us the REAL story, I hear you say.
Well, this particular baby fairy tern has been hatched on Midway Atoll. None of the birds there have a spark of fear from predators. They had no need of it. The parents of this baby laid their egg precariously balanced on the edge of the bicycle rack just outside the cafeteria. Where the egg is laid the baby stays. That's how it is. So we had to be careful taking out our bicycles and putting them in. While we did this he calmly watched us. Waiting.
Waiting for Mom and Dad to bring him breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner.
To me this is a story of waiting.
What is it to you?
It can be anything your heart desires.
What is it to you?


ORION said...

There are no REAL stories. No TRUE stories. No DEFINITIVE stories.
Each idea. Each photograph had a swirling aura of possibilities.
I guess that's what they should be called.

Holly Kennedy said...

Okay, here's my take on it...

The bird's not real. It's stuffed. Pat bought him at a flea market! Right, Pat? Fess up! You're just trying to play with our heads and get us all oooogey about some bird. Show us the PROOF. Can you add a mini-link that shows him moving, or at least falling over?? Chuckle...

Anissa said...

Before I read your description about the little fella I imagined him sleeping, waiting for Mama. I don't see any fear in him--he appears to me very content and peaceful. I did not expect him to be perched on a bicycle rack, so close to human contact. I pictured you capturing him with a super duper telephoto lens. crack me up!

Cassandra Tiensivu said...

It looks to me as though he is weary and trying to catch a bit of rest. Not being a bird expert, I assume most hatchlings and young birds live in nests. Where is his? He reminds me of a homeless person huddled up to keep warm (not that he needs to in Hawaii!).

Being somewhat of a photographer myself, I must agree about there being a story behind each photo. :)

ORION said...

He doesn't have a nest. Where he is -- is where it's at!
In the tropics nests are negotiable.
There are lots of birds nesting on the ground -- the albatross and petrels...
It is queer to have to walk around birds and not have them fly away in panic.
Fairy terns will nest on a low stump or the crook of a branch in a norfolk pine. Or the edge of a roof. Or golf cart seat. Even on a fence post.
Or bike rack.
Reminds me of writing a novel. Lots of variety in means and method. Variety in topic.
hmmm,,,does EVERYTHING relate to writing?

LadyBronco said...

To me, it's a story of trust.

That baby bird trusts it's mama and papa to come back and feed it, so it stays there.



Maprilynne said...

Wow, talk about seeing what you want to see in literature. Your post made me somber and i thought about waiting and wanted to know if the Mom and Dad DO bring him food . . . or is he waiting fruitlessly and is going to starve. You weren't very clear on that!:)

I guess because I'm waiting on several things too. Nothing I can do right now . . . just wait.

I felt bad for the little bird who also has to wait.


P.S. my daughter (my oldest) is turning four in April. I'm expecting my third in July. That's three kids under five and still two of them in diapers (assuming my son doesn't potty train himself in the next five months. Ha!)What sort of medication do I get? (Now no one say birth control.:))

adrienne said...

Hmm very cool, and telling about ourselves. To me the story was less about the bird, but the people who had to be careful not to disturb it. How it brought a little bit of magic and care into an average day (though is any day average in Hawaii?). I just like how a tiny little creature can change the lives of so many others quite unbeknownst to itself.

Therese Fowler said...

Yes, Pat, of course everything relates to writing! Unless your a singer, then everything relates to sound and songs...

Which is what this bird is up to: it's composing a tune while watching the strange, featherless bipeds come and go around the bike rack.

Soon it will sing, and it's not at all worried whether anyone's listening.

Therese Fowler said...

Make that, "unless YOU'RE a singer..."

canwag said...

For a writer, everything is fodder. Our stories are the sum total of everything we've seen, heard, and experienced - every book, movie, city, country, person - it's all grist for the mill. This little guy may very well play a part in the next Pulitzer Prize winner! (I'm thinkin' you here, Pat, not me.) :)

Anonymous said...

Aww - cute birdie!
Fairy terns are so sleek and graceful as adults - this chap is a real ungly duckling!
So he's sad. He sees his parents soaring in the sky and wonders why he's so awkward and earth-bound. He doesn't kow that in a few weeks he'll be like them. He's sitting there full of dreams and longing. But all he has to do is wait.
(And he wants something to eat. Now! LOL!)

ORION said...

This is fascinating.
We all have a unique way of looking at him.
The rest of the story.
He was fed regularly by his parents. His mom SAT on him each night, keeping him warm. It gets a bit chilly for babies at night (low 70's).
He watched us with interest each time we removed our bikes and set them in.

Bernita said...

I wait and rest.
Am fed.
The sun is warm as my mother's breast.
I dream.
Someday I will soar.

Anissa said...

That's beautiful, Bernita. Bravo!

ORION said...

I think that's lovely.
It is just what I needed.
Pat has been swamped today.
Website is inches from being launched. Twenty imploring letters have been written by me and edited by my agent and editor. Acknowledgment page vetted and mass quantities of questions are sitting there waiting to be answered for potential readers' guide and marketing.
Please keep commenting! It cheers me up to no end!

Cassandra Tiensivu said...

Birds hatching without a nest. That is such a foreign concept to me. I have always wanted to visit Hawaii to see all of the flora and fauna. Have you ever visited some of those slow moving lava flows?

Those "low 70s" sound heavenly! It's supposed to get down to 20 here tonight. Brrr.

LadyBronco said...

I can't wait to check out your website, Pat!

p.s. got all the way up to 48 degrees today. We had ourselves a regular heatwave up here in the foothills of Colorado. :-)

writtenwyrdd said...

WE're at -2 right now (Farenheit for you Canadians). I lived in Hawaii, and I can remember how I FROZE at 65 degrees. Seems strange to me now...

I think my imagination tank needs filling, because I just looked at the picture yesterday and sat there considering all the photographic choices you made in the execution. And I thought, What a cute baby bird!

ORION said...

Cass - Yeah I used to teach a summer marine science class through a private school (HPA) on the Big island for a few weeks during the summer.
Volcanoes National Park is extraordinary.
My favorite island (next to the one I live on) is the Big Island (Hawaii).
Most tourists never leave Waikiki and so do not realize how amazing Oahu is. Granted we do not have live volcanoes but I consider that a distinct advantage.
Yeah this week has been chilly.
Mia how is it for you over Hilo way?