Chris Johnson: The unmitigated gull of some birds

July 21, 2013 

I've always gotten along pretty well with birds -- unless you count a few dove hunting trips during my younger days. In my defense, I killed way more Slim Jims than doves during those excursions.

But I love seeing bald eagles flying along the banks of the Chattahoochee or parrots spouting off common phrases and stock tips. I like going to the park and feeding ducks and geese. Of course, my favorite bird is the original recipe.

I've even owned a few birds. My first one was a parakeet named K.C. who literally ate my homework once. We let him fly around the house, and when I returned to the table where I had been doing my homework, he had chewed it to bits. Some might have seen that as a reason to get rid of the bird, but I saw it as a reason to get rid of homework. One of those simply had to go.

I've also had a few cockatiels, including a sweet hand-fed bird I got from an aviary. Though cockatiels can be aggravatingly loud, this one learned to whistle the tune from "The Andy Griffith Show," which means I obviously watched reruns of the show too much back in the 1990s. Well, strike that: There's no such thing as too much Andy.

My wife, however, thinks birds are evil. This same woman owns a cat, which I contend is the most evil of all domesticated animals. Even the seemingly nice cats I'm pretty sure are just trying to lull us into a false sense of security as they plot the overthrow of mankind.

In fact, my Andy-whistling cockatiel -- who hated being stuck in his cage -- met his death while walking around my living room floor. I'd agreed to cat-sit for my sister, so long as the cat stayed outside. But the cockatiel obviously was too tempting and that cat laid in wait at my backdoor for the moment when the door cracked open. When it did, the cat bolted for the bird. Now, anytime I hear the theme song to "The Andy Griffith Show," I tear up a little.

But I've never had any trouble with birds -- well, unless you count that one time when I went to hit my punching bag in an old shed and

stuffed my hand into a glove only to find a bird inside. He didn't seem to like that much.

Oh, and there was that one time I choked on a turkey leg.

However, a bird finally went too far. Last week, I was swimming in the ocean and bothering no one. About neck deep in light waves, I turned to scan the horizon and noticed a seagull flying just above the water and straight at my head. And he (or she; I didn't have time to peek under the feathers) was carrying something in his beak.

I thought he might be blind because he was getting so close, but apparently he was merely distracted -- possibly texting and flying. At the last second, he pulled up, startled by my face, which happens to a lot of people, too. And as he pulled up, he dropped what was in his beak -- half of a hot dog wiener that hit me square in the forehead, much to the delight of my son, who was swimming with me and regards this as the highlight of his vacation.

I don't know if there's a moral to this story, but there's at least a warning here: If you ever see a bird with half a wiener, duck!

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