Page’s Guide To Birds

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HUMMINGBIRD: The name “hummingbird” is something of a misnomer since a hummingbird doesn’t actually hum. However, this bird is by no means anti-music. The hummingbird is a big fan of karaoke and, when listening to a favorite song on the radio, is not above tapping its foot.

BARN SWALLOW: The barn swallow got its name from its ability to swallow an entire barn in one gulp. Considered a serious nuisance in farming communities.

PENGUIN: Penguins are awkward on land and cannot fly, but they are extremely graceful swimmers. Penguin experts often say that what penguins do underwater is not swimming, it’s “underwater flying.” They call the actual flying that most birds do “airborne swimming.” Penguin experts are eccentric in many other ways and have few friends.

OWL: One of Nature’s most contemplative creations, this bird is always thinking (unlike the Brazilian thinker bird, which only thinks it’s always thinking). Thus, owls, their brains toned and bulging from constant use, can solve the Saturday Times crossword in less time than it takes to swoop down and kill a small vole. Also good at Scrabble.

BALD EAGLE: This species is famous for its ability to see things from far away. For example, bald eagles knew that Tom and Nicole were headed for Splitsville long before anyone else.

MALLARD DUCK: This bird comes in two varieties: real and decoy. Real mallards are the life of every party and are known for their ability to “quack everyone up.” Decoy mallards, on the other hand, are considerably less successful socially. Ornithologists often remark on their tendency to “just sit there.”

STORK: Famous as “the bird that brings the babies,” the stork is beloved by just about everyone. It holds a particularly special place in the hearts of couples with young, stork-brought children. What these couples don’t know, however, is what a uterus is for, and what their sex parts do, and what the word “pregnancy” means.

ROBIN: A purely fictional species. Although the robin has long been thought to exist, it doesn’t. (If you think you see a robin, look again. Your “robin” is probably just a small hopping dog.)

MOOSE: The world’s largest bird, the moose is also one of its most unusual. Moose are not only flightless; they also don’t have any noticeable beaks or feathers. And, instead of wings, the moose has what ornithologists call “antlers,” bony hatracklike protrusions which are located on its head, of all places. (The female moose doesn’t even have these, and, for the life of her, can’t think of what she did with them. “I must have put them down somewhere when I got the phone,” she says, looking around.)

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