First Friday: Feb. 5
You have the chance to win a recently published birding book if you enter the March contest! Mark March 4 as the deadline for your fictional story about birds, birders or birding.
* The story includes four elements: a setting, a character or characters, a conflict and a resolution.
* The story does not anthropomorphize birds.
* You send your wordsmithery to wildbirdATbowtieinc.com before 5 p.m. PST on the first Thursday of the month, and you include your mailing address.
Now, the winning entry in February's First Friday: "Sweets Above and Below."
I tell the cashier to keep the change as I pick up my order. Like most of the stuff on the menu at Dina's Inn, the coffee isn't particularly good, but Steve and I both need caffeine to get through the last two hours of our shift. Hotel California is playing in the background as I walk out the door, and I hum the chorus on my way back to the car.
Most of the cops in my precinct hate a daylight stakeout. Daytime stakeouts are boring, because the targets are usually sleeping. Me, I love an afternoon out in the car, especially in the spring. The perps aren't usually active, but the birds sure are. On our last stakeout, I got two new warblers and one clean arrest - and Steve doesn't mind if I make all of the caffeine runs, even if it takes me twice as long as it should. A rookie - especially one that likes to look at birds - couldn't ask for a better partner.
Our unmarked Fury is parked two streets from the river, on Locust Street. I've tallied a few new year birds on the walk, including a Chestnut-sided Warbler in the park across from Dina's, but as I approach the car, my focus returns to the job. From about 30 yards out, I can see the driver's seat is empty. Aw, nuts. Where's Steve?!
I scan the street between the car and the house we've been watching. There's no movement. I see nothing suspicious. The street looks as it did when I left Steve about 15 minutes ago. So where is he? A robin sings from a treetop behind me, but I don't notice it in my growing panic.
I put the coffee cups down on the sidewalk and consider my next move. Suddenly I see a dark shadow pass on the sidewalk in front of me. I nearly shout out in surprise when I look up to see a huge dark bird with a light head soaring over the neighborhood. Although I've never seen one in the wild before, I instantly recognize the adult Bald Eagle. I can't believe my eyes. Last I heard there were only about 800 breeding pairs of these birds left in the whole United States. I forget about Steve and the job for just a moment as I watch the eagle gently turn back towards the river. When it's out of sight, I realize I've been holding my breath.
Totally exhilarated from the sighting, I look back down to the Fury and see Steve sitting on the driver's side. Puzzled, I pick up our coffees and jog to the car. Steve is cursing under his breath. I see doughnuts, chocolate sprinkles and powdered sugar spilled all over the floor. Steve never left the car; he had just been bent down, trying to clean up the spilled sweets. I sigh with relief and help him with the mess so we can return to watching the house. I tell him about my Bald Eagle moment over cold coffee and brushed-off doughnuts.
Bald Eagle courtesy of WFAE.org