Friday, October 2, 2009

Iraq is "For the Birds"!

I suspect that the famous "Triangle of Death" has never been considered a mecca for birdwatchers. On the other hand, as a courtesy to two very nice people back home (Howdy, Burt and Doris!) who are VERY dedicated birders, I offer a snapshot (well, two snapshots, actually) of the bird situation here in Southern Iraq.

I noticed upon my arrival 3 months ago that there were almost no birds to be seen. With the daily temperature at 120+ degrees, I figured that birds were smart enough to hang out elsewhere. The occasional dove would fly overhead and poop on soldiers, (how's that for war zone irony?) but the absence of birds singing was pretty weird. Then one day about a month ago, as dusk approached and we made our way toward the mess hall, the sky was darkened by thousands of little birdies, all emitting shrill cries. These feathered clouds alighted on the only four eucalyptus trees in our FOB and continued their ear-splitting racket, until a controlled detonation of some confiscated enemy explosives caused every bird to take wing simultaneously and scream about 4 feet over our heads. This show now occurs almost every evening.

I snapped a photo of one of these unremarkable brown birds, sans his buddies, as he perched on the concrete blast wall outside of my CHU...I'm confident that either Burt or Doris will supply the identification once they read this. The second photo is a small portion of the nightly gathering. You'll have to take my word that the little black dots covering the branches are indeed birds. I would have gotten closer, but these birds were especially free with their droppings this evening, and I was wearing a fresh uniform! Anyway, loud as those little brown suckers are, it's nice to hear birds singing again...

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