The Birdman, 1 of 4: Gathering Stock

The birdman got his birds at the wild bird market, where there were all kinds of Philippine birds, but he usually only took two. These were small green parrots, the size of a budgerigar, and Java rice birds. He packed them crowdedly into small communal cages and brought them by bus the sixty miles south from Manila to Angeles. Though people knew he was a peddler, they would sometimes tease him.

“Where are you going with so many small birds? You cannot eat them.” Or, “Did you catch them yourself? You are a very good bird fisherman.”

He ignored them and ate his rice and fish carefully wrapped in banana leaf. Whenever the bus stopped, venders sold baloots at the windows. These were duck eggs boiled shortly before hatching. But some were cooked only when they became large yolks. He bought yolks because they were cheaper. He had a family.

Copyright 2014 George Lowell Tollefson


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