A surf scoter’s childhood

If you ask a surf scoter to tell you about its childhood, it might say this, in surf-scoterspeak: “Well...as a seabird it would’ve been nice to have been hatched with a few siblings in a cozy nest near my food source—fish—and the *sea,* you know? But I was an only child, hatched inland —I mean, really far inland, for a seabird—on a horizontal branch —no nest, maybe some stray moss— of a tall old-growth conifer. I know, right? I had to watch for corvids that thought I was an Easter basket Peep. My parents were mostly absent, ‘gone fishing,’ they would explain. When they did come back, all they had was a single solitary fish for me. Then they’d leave again. Eventually they didn’t return. Finally I got so hungry, my fear of falling was overcome by my deep need for fish, and I launched out. Leap of faith. I somehow found my way west to the coast by just listening for the keer-keer of my scoter peeps and the sound of the waves that as I got closer smelled just like fish. Pretty normal, really, for surf scoters. I hear the same story all the time.”
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