Birders: How “Vagrancy” is Reframed in Nature

“I’m sorry did you want to ask me something?”

“Yes I just wanted to know if you knew what kind of bird was…”

“Yes well that little one you were looking at was a Green Heron. There was a Blue Heron here earlier.

Once the woman and her son leave, the Blue Heron flies back to the water.

The Birder has previously been talking to someone else about “vagrancy”, a situation where birds are found out of their natural habitat, flight patterns and seasonal locales. I am reading Frantz Fanon’s “Black Skin, White Masks” and wondering why people don’t see other people this way. A Vagrant is a homeless person we’d rather have living somewhere else. Given that a hotel on the Upper West Side is being used as a shelter right now during the pandemic, and people want it shut down or consider moving; I feel a tinge of pain for the compassion we have for animals over people.

These are not mutually exclusive. We can care about animals and people. However, this is far from the Karen’s Law reaction NY has taken over The Cooper incident in Central Park. Some people were worried about another Black man having the cops used as private security for a white woman who had an unleashed dog. Others saw the potential of brutality through her behavior with her dog. Putting it back on a neck leash and holding it sturdy, like a lynchers rope. This pathway to empathy is dangerous in that we separate what is deemed worthy of life.

Vagrancy for animals is something to study, to observe and, if for survival and protection, moved to an appropriate location so it can survive. The unemployed and homeless are not given such concessions.

If only they could be birds.

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