Birds of a feather

Tara massaged her craniofacial hinge with two feathers from her left wing in small circular movements. It was already daylight, she was tired and this was turning into a long and sleepless day.

“So … you’re an owl?”  The Twenty-eight was confused.

Tara had explained her family tree to him three times and he still didn’t get it. No wonder they’re being outcompeted for nesting space by those Rainbow Lorikeet immigrants, she thought.

Tara sighed. “No. People confuse Tawny Frogmouths with owls because we’re both nocturnal, but we’re nothing alike.”

“I mean really. Owls can’t even manage a quick day-nap without building an elaborate hide to sleep in. They’re the most neurotic, introverted predators I’ve ever met,” she snorted derisively.

“Who are?” The Twenty-eight, with his knit brows, was getting on her nerves. She wondered uncharitably if that ring around his neck constricted blood flow to his brain.

“Owls,” she fired back. “Owls are neurotic. And they have no sense of style. All showy feathers and hoot hoot,” Tara sneered.

“Aww that’s a bit mean. I mean, they are your family.” Tara began to question whether the Twenty-eight was all there. Had he been dropped from the nest as an egg?

“Nooooo. They’re not my family. They’re about as much my family as an emu is your uncle.” Surely he couldn’t fail to understand it now?

“I’ve got an Uncle ‘Mu actually. Nice bloke. Bit daft.” Oh you don’t say, thought Tara. It took great restraint to keep her tongue.

“Actually luv, I’m a bit weary. Been up all night. Do you mind pushing off now so I can get a bit of shut-eye in the sun?” She was done with the conversation and desperate for sleep. It had been a wonderful night’s haul and she was looking forward to tucking into her morning pre-sleep meal.

“Oh don’t mind me,” chirped the Twenty-eight. “I’ll just perch here. You won’t even notice me. You go ahead and have a nap. I’ll keep an eye out.”

This was not what Tara had planned. She valued her solitude and space, and didn’t want to have to share the branch of this eucalypt with this moronic birdbrain. Never mind, she had a trick up her feathers for just such an occasion.

“Righty-oh then,” she said stretching her face upwards into the sunshine, eyes closed, wings in tight, body arrowed. Her mottled feathers ruffled in the wind, settling into the same pattern as the bark of the tree. Tara focused her mind, imagining herself as an extension to the branch.

Om, I am the branch. Om, I am the tree. Om, the tree flows through me. Om, we are one.

“Hey! Where’d she go?” The Twenty-eight was sure that owl was sitting right next to him just a minute ago. Funny birds, owls. Bit stuck up, but silent as the night. It was almost magical.

He shrugged his iridescent green wings, stretched them sideways from his body and launched himself off the branch.

©Asha Rajan

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