When I was young, I talked to birds

I used to talk to birds. Oddly, they used to talk back. Walking down my street, in the shadow of tall trees, I would hear a solitary whistling call from some lonely bastard or other. I would whistle back in the same rhythm. A few moments later, I would get a response in a slightly different tone. Then came the crucial part. If I failed my response, the conversation would end. There would be silence, and no amount of whistling could bring my conversational partner back. Repeated experimentation allowed me to feel out the breadth and basics of the social cues they used, and eventually I was able to progress through multiple calls and responses without committing avian faux-pas. I was very proud of this ability and would practice it often.

I do wonder whether any of them figured out that I was not a potential mate. I never thought at the time about why the birds were calling, I just felt compelled to call back. I wonder how many species I irrevocably damaged, how many birds I cockblocked, just by trying to say hello.

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