Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Birds Series: The Lunch

Those that know me know that I have an irrational fear and hatred of birds. (Actually, I think it's perfectly justified!)  "But Why?" you might ask. There are a number of traumatic experiences to point to and, in an attempt to bring some levity to your day, I'm going to chronicle as many of those moments as I can remember.  So...keep a look out for The Birds Series.

Our school in Kenya was up on the hills in the middle of coffee fields. Other than the actual classrooms, everything was done outside. We didn’t have a gym (I think they might have one now), no theater or arts center and no cafeteria. This wasn’t a problem because we were almost directly on the equator and a mile up in elevation. If you want the perfect climate go to Nairobi. 70 degrees year around. It was paradise.

Every day we head out to the lawn to eat our lunches. What luxury, there’s nothing better than picnicking every day. The birds thought so too.

We furtively pulled out our lunches, curling our bodies around them as we tried to get the food to our mouths without attracting the attention of the hawks waiting overhead. Except hawks have really great eyesight. And they’re fast. And they have claws and giant wings…

It was a common occurrence to have food grabbed right out of your hand as you tried to eat. Often it was just the rush of air and suddenly missing food from your grip that alerted you to the already completed attack. But, we’d all seen or experienced first hand the scratched welts on an arm when the grab hadn’t been quite as smooth. More than one kid was hit in the face by a wing as a hawk swooped through for a free lunch.

I don’t even remember any defensive maneuvers, other than stuffing food into our mouths as fast as possible. It was a gourmet buffet for the hawks and we just watched the show.

Eventually, wires were strung between the trees which protected us from the inexperienced hawks at least. But the ones that had been around a while – they learned to just fly underneath, making one long swoop across the lunch area and grabbing any free food that wasn’t appropriately guarded.

Again, the theme continues…DON’T CARRY FOOD AROUND BIRDS!

Go here for more in this series.


  1. Were not those hawks actually black kites?
    Jean Martin

  2. Ahh! Someone who can verify the story AND cares more about birds than I do so that they're actually correctly identified! Thanks Jean! :)