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Lee Pitts: Old Crows & Wild Turkeys

"Do you happen to know what kind of bird that is sitting on the back of your cow there?" asked the trespassing tourist, peering through a pair of high dollar binoculars.

"Around here we call them cow birds," I replied. "It is quite a common sight to see a bird dining on the back of a cow, proving the theory that two really can live as cheaply as one."

"Well, I'll have you know that I have traveled around the world looking at birds and I can tell you from experience that is not a Common Cowbird."

"Well if you know so much what did you ask me for? What are you doing on my ranch any way?"

"As I said, I am a bird watcher and I travel around the world searching out new birds. In the 45 years that I have been bird watching I have personally "experienced" over 5,000 different birds which ranks me 21st on the American Birding Association's World List of Bird Watchers. I'll have you know that in my career I have "experienced" several endangered species and have spotted such rare birds as the Nuthatch, Chickadee and the Booby Bird."

"Yeah, I have seen a few of those myself. That sounds like an interesting and competitive hobby and one that I might be interested in. I see a lot of birds every day, how do I go about getting on this World List?"

"It's very simple really," he explained. "All you do is keep track of the different birds you "experience" and note the time and location."

Bird watching sounded like a real hoot, so on a lark I decided to become a bird watcher. Two weeks later I saw my tourist friend who dropped by on his way out of town.

"How have you done so far on your life list?" he asked.

"So far I have "experienced" 35,000 birds."

You'd have thought I'd shot an endangered tweety bird in his presence. He screamed, "That's impossible! There are only 1,400 known birds in the entire United States. As I told you, I've been bird watching for nearly 50 years and I've only spotted 5,000 all over the world! I doubt you've been to the Brazilian rain forest since last we met so it would be impossible for you to have seen even 2,000!"

"Well, I have kept a list like you told me to. Do you want so see it?"

My new feathery friend grabbed my Life List out of my hand and here's what he saw:

65 dead chickens on the barbecue spit at the annual FFA banquet,

21 ugly, smelly buzzards circling the afterbirth of one of my cows,

127 Cow Birds of various plumage,

3,475 itsy-bitsy blackbirds sitting on a wire prior to a rain storm,

70 Baltimore Orioles and Blue Jays, (I don't know if they count because they were on the television).

31,000 turkeys at a turkey farm.

"And that doesn't even count the 15 sea gulls that left their calling card on the hood of my pick-up. Nor did I count the thousands of birds I saw heading north because I wasn't sure if they were ducks or geese."

After my bird-brained friend saw my Life List he was squawking like a rained-on rooster. His faced turned more colors than a peacock has feathers. I think he was jealous that in just two short weeks I'd seen seven times more birds than he saw in his entire life. I thought he was about ready to pop a cork or blow a gasket so I said, "Let's go have a drink down at Happy Jack's Tavern. There's an Old Crow and some Wild Turkey down there you need to "experience" right about now.