Mall Birds

by Marion L. Ritcey

This cool fall day as I walk to work I see the large flocks of fluffy brown sparrows, they live in the trees at the mall. They swoop down to get a bite. Then fly back up to the trees to hide till they see someone come again. Always hoping for a dropped bit of food or a crumb of some kind. The children carrying popcorn need to hold fast to the red stripped box or the hungry birds will fly down and eat from it. Not so much the ice cream cones. That may be to cold to bite and runaway with. I see the small brown birds perched on top of the vending machines hoping  for a  dropped bag of chips or cookies. The new nut seller seems to have a good flock hiding behind him in the tree. The few hardy outside booths are a special place for the feathered friends. They hope for a crumb thrown their way. The salesperson may have taken a fancy to the little sparrows. So the sparrows return the attention.

They hide under the shrubs trying not to be seen hoping to blend in since they are both a shade of brown. The sparrows are a  different shade of brown but the blend in well.  The singing sparrows  create a sound that can be heard up one path and down another. It’s like they sing for us, our own concert. One or two little fellows get the nerve  to fly in  open doors of the  stores to see what  people are doing and what we offer that brings the people . Maybe begging for a nibble of lunch. Or just to look around.  Just wondering what is inside the places the humans seem to like. The bright shiny crystal attracts them in my store. Maybe they are starting their holiday shopping. The bold colors may attract them thinking they can get a bit of string or cloth  for their nests to make it  a rainbow of colors. Or just to keep warm through the winter. Each stored offers them a different view.

The winter decoration are up so the sparrows have more places to hide. The evergreen wreaths with bows of gold and red  are a favorite. They look great, the little fellows singing away  all in a row heads held high.  Not our  Christmas Carols but their own tunes. It may not be a tune we know but we love it just the same. If it’s cold they fluff up their feathers and look bigger than they are. All they need are little colored scarfs, stocking caps and mittens.

At night when you would think they would be asleep they still sit in the trees  chattering  till the mall closes. Some time their singing  is so loud it’s funny. The serenade  seems nice and keep thoughts of to much work at bay. I think the mall lights keep  them up late.  Or maybe they just don’t want to miss anything. Seeing all the folks hussling by with their hands full of  brightly colored bags and boxes. Hearing all the voices and the different languages spoken. They love to sit and watch the comings and goings of  people laughing and talking. Children asleep in a carriage or riding on the horse or car , rides for a quarter. The laughter of a child’s first ride rings through the air. The look on a parents face remembering their first ride. Up and down on the horse, feet in the stirrups and  holding the rains for dear life. Do you remember your ride for a quarter? Then there is silence, the lights are out for the night.

I often wonder what they think of all the people going about their shopping. Carrying the many  bags  from the different stores, full of goods they have bought. The birds don’t need pocketbooks, new boots, crystal, diamonds or jeans. So they sit there seeing  all the people laden down with bags . The people are there rain or shine, so are the birds.

The birds must laugh when they see us trying to find a place to park on a holiday weekend or any weekend for that matter. They have all the free parking a tree can offer. They sit and watch us drive around and around till they get dizzy. No worry of getting a ticket for parking in the wrong place for them . They don’t even  wait in line to get in or out of the mall. No traffic light stops them, red, green or yellow they just fly by. Happy to leave a calling card on a roof top or window every now and again. I can just imagine them sitting there laughing at us all.

On black Friday the sparrows wake up to shoppers looking for bargains to hide till  the holiday comes. They wonder why the shoppers are here. It’s midnight and there is  turkey and pie at home. Football games to watch and family to see. The sparrows have their families around them.

Every year new plants are grown and tended by  mall staffers. I wonder if the sparrows ask each other what will be new this year. The birds get new hiding places each spring. Tall leafy  green grasses  swaying in the wind, lovely multi colored flowers to see and smell.  Huge brightly colored  pots filled with brilliant colored  plants to fly through. And best of all green ornamental grass to play in.  The birds can catch a ride in the wind on the stalks of the grass. Or catch  the dew off the blooms  in the morning for a cool drink.

There are new food venders to see and  new treats to try. And best of all the children with their parents who drop a morsel for the feathered friends to enjoy. Sometimes the children just want to see the cute fluffy brown birds run out from under the shrubs and grab the treat only to hide again. The little puff balls think if they stand still no one will see them. They shiver and shake thinking we can’t see them . But we can and are delighted to catch a glimpse.

I do believe the birds enjoy the running around and hiding from the folks so they can see all the visitors to the mall. And interact with them in their own birdy way. We all enjoy the interaction and  It sooths the shopper and the sales help to know that the  beautiful singing sparrows hide in our trees and treat us to a very special concert every day. The sounds that are so good we stop and listen now and again.

Next time you’re near a mall check and see what kind of birds are hiding in the trees. Listen and hear their songs enjoying the concert free of charge. Maybe even drop a crumb and watch to see who comes for it.