Saturday, April 23, 2011

I Always Feel Like...

...a one-hit wonder from the eighties.

For the year and half that I lived in Mesa, Arizona, I worked at a call center for Compass Bank. The center was located in a business complex in Tempe. The grounds for the complex were quite attractive. I was a little surprised by the amount of wildlife I saw on the grounds, in the middle of the Phoenix-Mesa-Tempe metropolis.

Most evenings, as the sun was going down and I was leaving work, I would see wild rabbits running and jumping and playing on the lawns near the large bushes.

One Saturday morning, I was going in for my shift and saw a covey of quail running across the six-lane avenue. The mother and father in the lead, six chicks running along behind, their little tear-drop feathers bobbing from their foreheads. After that I often saw the covey scratching around in the bushes, heads pecking at choice insects.

At one point the sprinkler system sprung a leak, creating a small pond in the middle of one of the sections of lawn. While the pond existed, there were always a couple ducks hanging around, enjoying the privacy the small pond afforded them. I loved the way the metallic blue and green feathers glistened in the sun.

And there was this bird.

I don't know what kind of bird it was. I haven't been able to find a picture of a similar one anywhere. It was always by itself. Its breast and belly and part of the head were an off-white, maybe eggshell, maybe a really light beige. The wings were a dark brown. While the base of the head was the beige, there was a dark brown mask around the eyes and a skull cap of the same brown. It had long, thin legs. It was always near the same spot, looking around, rather nervous. It hung out on the ground, and ran around. It could fly, but seemed to prefer not to.

One day, I decided to get a closer look. I drove up close to where it was laying on the asphalt. It didn't get nervous, really, just turned around, settled back down and fanned its tail out. The action seemed a little saucy and just a touch arrogant.

The only time I ever saw another of its same species was when it had its chick with it. Guess that's why it was always in the same spot.

I quit working for the bank and moved back to Utah, living in the Provo area. The next year I got a job delivering for Domino's Pizza in the Spanish Fork/Mapleton area. One day, driving back to Spanish Fork from Mapleton, I saw a spindly-legged, masked bird by the side of the road. Just one. I stopped and backed up, as I was the only car on the road. Sure enough, it looked almost exactly the same as the one I had seen in Tempe.

I later saw a similar bird in Provo in the apartment complex I lived in. Just the one.

Last night I was coming back from taking out the garbage when a bird flew out from the bush I was walking past. It landed in the parking lot a few feet away and quickly settled down on the asphalt. I stared at it for a moment. There was white. And a mask over the eyes. It was dark and I wasn't sure of the colors. I took one step in the bird's direction, just to see if my suspicion was correct. The bird flew off as soon as I moved.

I don't know that it's the same bird every time. Seems a little unlikely. But, really, why do I always see just the one? It creeps me out just a little every time I see one of these birds.

I'm starting to feel like somebody, or something, is always watching me.