Thursday, March 6, 2008

I like Ike.....

We went to the beach at Zalala last weekend for the first time since October. It was a beautiful and hot day. The water was particularly dirty, I suppose from recent storms, but the beach was as empty and beautiful as usual. We set up capulana camp and read and swam for a few hours, getting instant sunburn despite compulsive sunscreen use. Then we headed to the little restaurant where they grill fish and shrimp outside on a patio. After a yummy meal, we walked back through the pine strand to the beach. A little boy came up to us holding a small hawk with its wings pinioned behind its back. We asked how much it was, feeling bad for the bird. “Fifty metacais!” (About $2). We decided to buy the poor thing and let it go. I gingerly took the bird by its wings from the boy. The hawk/eagle was heavier than it looked. It seemed very uncomfortable to be dangling by its wings so I started to put my finger under his feet so he could support his weight. However, after noting the extremely sharp-looking, curved talons, I re-thought that idea and asked Kevin to get a stick. We untied the black string around his leg and set him on the stick, expecting him to fly away at any moment. But he didn't. The bird curled his feet around the stick and we got a good look at him. He was beautiful, white and gray with clear, fire engine red eyes. He was maybe a foot tall. He intently studied each of us in turn with those eyes. I stroked his back and he turned his head all the way around to watch me, which was a little unnerving. This bird looked you full in the face, fearlessly. The boy was still hanging around, suspecting we were going to release the eagle and I'm sure he wanted to catch him again and resell him. We continued our walk to the beach with the bird on the stick. We decided to name him Ike (we considered Sam, Wilbur, Eggbert, Charlemagne, Truman etc.) As I walked, I would glance over and see the bird staring at me or Kevin or Troy. He stayed on the stick for the whole walk. We were beginning to think we would have to take him home. Sophie, a French employee of Save the Children, called the boy back and demanded to know if he had hurt the bird. The boy said that of course he hadn't hurt him, just thrown rocks at him until he fell out of the tree. We sent him off again. As we crossed the dunes, the sea breeze picked up and Ike took wing. He flew to a pine tree and settled only about half way up the tree. The tree was immediately encircled by little boys and Troy went back to negotiate hostilities. Unless Ike learns to roost WAY up in a tree and fly far, far from little boys, I'm not sure he's going to have the longest life.

This was the week of birds. At the lab in Inhassunge this week, a baby bird fell out of a tree. Unfortunately for him, the lab technician caught him and brought him into the lab. It was a tiny little bird I have never seen before. Iridescent blue and purple with a gold tummy and bright orange feet and beak. The beak was really long, so I'm guessing it was the type that eats bugs. The Mozambicans weren't better informed. When I asked what type it was they said, “It's a small bird.” Very helpful, thank you. We ooohhed and aahhed and I suggested we put him back in the tree. The lab guy had another idea and over my increasingly frantic protests, he took scissors and clipped the poor animal's wings. After that it could only flutter a couple off the ground. It would careen about in panicky bursts and hide behind glass jars and boxes in the lab.

FYI: Podcast duel report. I'm the victor! Although truly, one would have to say that NEJM is the victor. No one takes themselves lightly at the NEJM. It's the most puritanical of medical journals with zero cover art, pictures, catchy graphic design, or any of the fluff like poems about cancer that other medical journals (I'm looking at you JAMA) prefer. Stay tuned for next week's duel. Kevin's digging up new boring computer stuff.


Blogger Professora O said...

Wow - you held a hawk in your hands! I hope you have pictures of him. Kev, I liked the old Mozamblog format better - seemed more open and spacious... Keep having fun!
XOXOXO A Professora

March 7, 2008 at 3:14 PM  

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