Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Letter To Ornithologist David Sibley

I am having one of those weeks. I'm tired at 7:00 PM every night and I'm stuck on this one project at work that's taking forever. Fun things like this blog shouldn't be a chore. Why am I talking to you about this?!

Mr. David Sibley
45 Isaac Davis Road
Concord, MA 01742

Dear Mr. Sibley,

Greetings from Ohio! Last night I noticed several crows acting crazy in the sky outside my apartment. Concerned, I prepared to call the CDC to report a possible West Nile outbreak when my eye caught a figure on the chimney across the street. Sure enough, it was a Cooper’s Hawk that had riled up those crows. I checked it immediately against the version in my Sibley Field Guide and confirmed my identification.

Upon telling my lady friend of my discovery, however, she corrected my verbiage. “It’s not a Cooper’s Hawk,” she said in a tone that made me reevaluate our relationship. “It’s just Cooper’s Hawk. You refer to birds just by using their common names.” Flabbergasted, the idea has consumed me ever since and forced me to research your county auditor’s tax information website in order to procure your home address so I might write you this letter.

So what you’re telling me is that instead of saying, “Look, in that tree! It’s the Semipalmated Plover!”, I instead have to say, “Look, it’s Semipalmated Plover!” That’s like I’m saying, “Look, it’s Ed Ruettiger from the farm store. Hi, Ed!” I’m an old-fashioned kind of guy, Mr. Sibley, I like a little formality in life. I eat granola in the morning. I pee sitting down. I hate people who own shiny metallic dress shirts, and I don’t want to be on a first name basis with some bird I’ve never even met!

This is just like when I was little and we called our old neighbor Louie, even though I preferred calling the elderly by their formal last names. Louie was a great guy, but when he died and I went to his funeral I didn’t want to call him Louie in front of all his old friends and family. I was already uncomfortable. Why was there so much Polish food there? Why was everyone so happy? Sure, it was a celebration of life, but who wants to eat polish sausage and sauerkraut in a funeral parlor? Or was the polish banquet somewhere else? His wife was the nicest woman. She died on May 3rdth, I remember it to this day because I was in school and my dad told me when I got out that day. Everyone else parked in front of the school, but my dad parked way behind the school at this dead-end street near a park adjacent to the soccer fields. I walked that way home anyway, but some days he would be waiting there to pick me up, and sometimes before we’d go home he would take me to Videowatch by G.L. Perry's Variety Store and rent me a game for my Nintendo Entertainment System.

Anyway, Mr. Sibley, which is it? Did a Cooper’s Hawk land on that chimney, or did I just see good ol’ Cooper’s Hawk over there. Yep, Cooper’s was just hanging out, driving Crow out of his damned mind. What a bunch of characters, those guys! You let me know as soon as you can, and enjoy Concord. It looks lovely on the Google Streetview map right by your house.

Completely Here,

The Correspondent


Anonymous said...

Great jingle. It is still in my head 20 years later.

"G.L. Perry's Variety Stores....have we got something for you!"

Or is it "have we got something for you?"

Anonymous said...

Mr. Tiger:
Thank you for your letter. In the future I would suggest that you do not use envelopes that smell like a cat when writing to an ornithologist. After identifying your apartment complex on a google map, the answer to your inquiry is as follows: that particular hawk is named A.J., and if you are interested, the crows are named Russell and Cameron.

Flockingly yours,

The Siblinator

Patrick B. said...

Nice letter. I've been a birder for many years and have never heard someone NOT say "a Cooper's Hawk". No one would ever say "It's Cooper's Hawk" or "It's the Cooper's Hawk."