All I have to do, thought Wizzy, is just sit here on this branch and not be sick, or fall off or… die. Wizzy had indulged in something she knew was bad for her, toxic as it turned out. She had guzzled too many over ripe mulberries and was dearly paying the price. She also faintly remembered inhaling the smoke from a burn pile of suspicious weeds as she dizzily flew out of her Territory, due south as the crow flies. Painfully opening one eye she found herself confronted by an ancient eagle staring at her with steely eyes. Through intuitive communication and without quotation marks she immediately read his mind and responded in kind. So sorry, excuse me half hooted and croaked Wizzy. Please just give me a minute and I’ll be on my way. The elegant and imposing eagle said nothing but continued to stare. He was used to outsiders showing up unannounced.
After some time, Wizzy ventured a little out onto the branch to look tentatively down on the valley below. She saw unfamiliar trees everywhere, nothing like the soaring green trees at home. In select spots there were trees that were huge and lavish with enormous gold and silver leaves, hanging with lucious fruits. Further down the valley were towering grey trees with only a minimal amount of leaves lined up in identical rows. Some regular looking leafy trees proudly spread as far as they could but they were becoming blighted and infested. At the bottom of the valley, broken in mouldy and insect infested heaps were the dead and useless trees.
Wizzy considered for a moment what her life was worth to her but asked a direct question anyway. Why are some trees so beautiful here and some are so awful? No reaction. She was ignored. Knowing then that her welcome had worn thin she prepared to lift off and try to find her way by the north star to her home and native land, Pinecone Territory.
Still weak from her foolish overindulgence she ditched into the rocks below but didn’t hurt herself too badly, only her pride as usual. Take your time ,was the crisp response that came from above, from the stone ledge where the venerable eagle nested, you might need to build up your strength before flight. Have a nice peachy mouse or two. I’ve got a couple that have been sitting here for days in the sun and they will settle your stomach. Swallowing the fuzzy and cured treat and regurgitating as normal she soon felt up to the challenge.
However with the mists of night dwindling away and the sun cresting over the cliff tops the air was suddenly filled with millions of multicoloured birds all pecking each other unmercifully and drawing blood. Not only that, they seemed to be standing in a foul looking and smelling soup that had spread everywhere on the branches of the trees and the foliage below. On second glance she realized the birds were self-generating the awful stuff and it wasn’t soup at all. Not by a long shot. It clung to their feathers and pooled at their feet. Some where swimming in it. They kept up the battle, oblivious to it.
Appalled, confused and on guard, Wizzy again asked the eagle for any insight into the vicious fight surrounding them. Well, you might as well know the full story, my poor uninformed, brainless neighbour. It is this way and it will never change. It is because of my dominance over all of these other birds that you see and also of those that you don’t see. To gain favour with me, half of the birds have pledged allegiance to my amazing right wing while the other half have done the same with my beautiful left . Those on the right are arrogant, self-serving and feel superior to those on the left. In turn, those on the left believe themselves to be smarter, artistic and generous. You may have noticed the dithering doves as well but mostly they organize on rare unifying occasions in July and November, for example, and offer nuts, berries and nourishing seeds to both sides. You do the math, the doves are outnumbered but generally flock to the left side of my wing span of influence as they are more comfortable there. Gotta love the doves said the eagle under his breath.
Without warning as she was considering what the eagle had shared with her, Wizzy was approached by a tough looking pigeon full of swagger. Hey, what are you looking at?…. demanded the tough guy. Are you here to lead…. or follow? Wizzy was quite taken aback by the abrupt comment and especially when he sniggered at her and said hey…. owl baby, just get out-of-the-way, just get out-of-the-way. A downright dorky looking bird with a red band circling his throat sneered and called her a Witchbird. Well! On that final note Wizzy stared straight ahead, nodded respectfully at the eagle (considering the treatment of the newcomers) and prepared to catch the next breeze out of there and fly home. As she did so, the proud eagle managed to say, goodbye neighbour. If I ever get up your way we will go on a real hunt together, I’m getting on and I will no doubt need your help.
Home never looked so good to Wizzy when she finally arrived the following evening. Avoiding the lure of the windfall mulberries she snacked on a couple of fresh frogs. Refreshed, Wizzy found her little hollow tree, checked on her dark glass button to make certain it was safe until she needed it again and slept as dawn broke in the clear sky.