We are animal lovers here. That is obvious, right? After all our job is to take you to see them, and even though we specialize in underwater critters, we have empathy and fondness for our terrestrial, land based fellow planetary inhabitants. Even some bipedal ones.
Central America has some unique denizens. The animal kingdom in the tropics has evolved (please, let's just assume for the length of this paragraph that it "could" have happened) to suit their environment and to one, like myself, who has grown up in the boreal forests of the north, many are totally unfamiliar.
There are some black birds here. A few different kinds it seems, of which all are black and hang out here in the village. They are around the size of a Robin (which are not here heralding the onset of Spring) and flit about doing bird things and futilely trying to whitewash the town.
One species kinda stands out; The Great Tailed Grackle. With a bit of a camp-robber personality, its claim to fame is its extraordinary tail. A large Beechcraft Bonanza sort of like a "Flying V" (not Gibson) affair that seems a little outta proportion.
It also has the distinction of having acquired seven "voices" the amazing story follows:
- John Nova Lomax
In Mexico, where they are known as zanates, it was said during pre-Columbian times that back in more ancient days, zanates were mute. Zanates being zanates, they soon fixed that problem. According to one grackle scholar’s account: “In the creation, the Zanate having no voice, stole its seven distinct songs from the wise and knowing sea turtle. You can now hear the Zanate’s vocals as the Seven Passions (Love, Hate, Fear, Courage, Joy, Sadness, and Anger) of life.”
I guess when they stole the sea turtle's songs, they took it all. It has been my experience that sea turtles are somewhat quiet, but if recent experience with the Grackles is any indication, turtles were once very noisey!
While I was Cleaning the shop the other morning a Grackle strutted across the road and up onto the deck in front of the dive shop like he owned the place. Obviously male, it was hardly great example of the species, kinda scrawny and a bit worn it stood there cocking its head from side to side checking me out. I didn't think too much of it as one can run into some pretty interesting characters around West End early in the morning, and I wasn't overly intimidated so I carried on with chores. Coming out of the gear room in back where executive responsibilities had taken me, I saw the Grackle running out of the shop looking guilty (you know the expression) and putting some distance between us. Everything looked normal in the shop, like the cash drawer was still intact, and no new white dots on the floor, so a quick shrug and back to the chores.
Peeking around the corner later I caught the Grackle in the act of stealing a piece of Beast's cat food! This critter waits around until Beast has had her breakfast and is off doing her morning ablutions, and while the cat is away....he darts in and grabs a bite!
I think this is crazy stuff. A bird coming in the building and eating the cat's food. When the staff gets in I start to relate the extraordinary event only to be interrupted with;
"Oh, that's John's bird."
"Yeah, well, the bird was on the deck one day, and John gave it a piece of cat food."
"So uh, I guess the bird saw where John was getting it from, and now it just helps itself."
"Interesting" (I really talk like that) "What does Beast think of all this?"
"I don't think they have come nose to nose yet!"
Time for a prediction; I believe a future posting of THE BLOG will be entitled 'Conflict on the Tiles', or 'Fur and Feathers Fly', or perhaps 'Strange Bedfellows'.