14 October 2011

Go fly, kite!

I grew up amongst seagulls; a noisy, messy bunch, but not at all threatening, even when they came in large groups searching for treats. Once I left Texas, I was largely removed from groups of flying critters, except for occasional swooping pigeons, but living overseas has changed all that.

In Africa, swarms of fruit bats filled the sky at dusk, darting in and out of the trees and, sometimes, flying so close to me as I walked I could hear the “swoosh” of their giant wings.

In Islamabad, we had crows. To discourage them from roosting, we hung fake owls in the trees—owls are evidently a natural enemy of crows—along with shiny strips of twirling metal. It didn’t work. The crows would foul the ground below the trees and make a terrible racket at both dawn and dusk. The worst was when they became infected with H1N5 (avian influenza). Dead birds, scattered by the dozens around the grounds of the embassy, caused a minor panic.

Karachi has kites, black kites to be exact. These large, rather intimidating birds soar and swoop in groups all day long, not unlike vultures waiting for carrion to appear.

Black kite

My apartment has a very nice balcony with some lovely teak furniture. It might be a nice place to sit and read a book. I say might because I will never know. The kites like to land on the balcony rail and sit on the arm of the teak chair, and they are aggressive. I got a good look at a kite perched outside my window, and that thick, curved beak and the menacing talons were enough for me. My balcony belongs to the kites. I will never venture there.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

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