Spinning For Birds

Choosing bird watching over people watching, Sybil adds a rare bird to her life list.

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low angle photography of ferris wheel

Sybil stepped up into the pod of the city ferris wheel. She thumped her purse and binoculars on the seat beside her and dug out her phone.

“Where are you?!” She stabbed at the screen as she texted.

Alynn promised to be here at 2 p.m. When she didn’t show up, Sybil bought a ticket anyway and joined the queue for the wheel. She wasn’t about to miss a chance to catch a glimpse of the nest every bird watcher in the city was talking about.

“All set, miss?” the attendant asked as he prepared to close the door to the pod.

“Yes, thank you,” Sybil replied.

She picked up her binoculars and began scanning the nearby trees where the nest had been sighted. Spotting this bird would be a special star in her life list.

The nearby apartments caught her eye. A business man in a slate grey suite stood on a balcony and stared out toward the bay. A nanny or maybe a grandmother sat with two young children doing homework at a kitchen table.

The ferris wheel began to move, Sybil’s pod swung up and out toward the building. She continued her visual scan for occupants. Many windows were covered with blinds, but a few were open. Young lovers occupied one window, moving from window to a teal couch.

The seagulls calling outside the pod reminded her why she had come in the first place. Stop being such a voyeur she told herself. She trained her lenses on the two trees just to the left of the apartment building. Supposedly that was where this rare bird had chosen to build its nest.

As her pod continued to climb higher Sybil thought she could make out the nest in the uppermost branches, but the glossy blue green leaves kept obscuring her view. In just another moment she would be at the apex. The wheel slowed to let other passengers board. Now was her chance.

Carefully scanning each branch from the trunk outward, she searched for it. At last, just before pod began to move again, Sybil spotted the nest. It wasn’t empty! The football sized mass of sticks and palm fronds was bunched right up against the main trunk where three branches created a little pocket.

There, atop the claptrap nest, sat the bright yellow helmet of the yellow-headed magpie.

This short story is part of a daily 36-minute freewriting exercise I’m committing to. I used the following prompts:

  • Character: Birdwatcher
  • Action: texting
  • Setting: on a Ferris wheel
  • Prop: a helmet