In this episode, the Private Eye tells his saddest story: his nemesis bird. That’s what birders call a species that keeps giving you the slip. His nemesis is the Painted Bunting, a colorful gem of a bird. When word of the species being spotted nearby reaches the PI, he rushes off to see it, hoping to end his struggle to see the bird at last…
BirdNoir: The One That Got Away
Written by Conor Gearin and Mark Bramhill
This is BirdNoir. I’m Michael Stein, Private Eye.
[music: Teddy Wilson, “As Time Goes By”]
Of all my sorry tales, the sorriest one is my nemesis bird. That’s what us birders call a species that just keeps giving you the slip. Well, my nemesis bird is the Painted Bunting. A real gem of a bird — the males have blue heads, green wings and red breasts, and the females are yellow-green.
These birds love open spaces: shrubby clearings and overgrown farm fields. I don’t get out of the city much, what with my PI work. But whenever I hear about a Painted Bunting around, I grab my binoculars and my fedora and rush out the door.
[door squeaks open and slams shut]
And I miss it every time.
Last year, I got word of a pair of them in the city cemetery. As the rain began to pour, I jumped in my car and sped across town. [car tire screech]
I ran to the pond near where the birds had been seen. I asked a nearby birder where they were. She pointed to a tree and said, “Right there. But wait — I can’t see them anymore!” And then I heard their song, like a dream fading away:
[fade music “Le Belle Aurore” from Casablanca]
[Painted Bunting song, ML 110139, reverb fx]
[bring up music same as above ]
So I’ve heard, but never seen, my nemesis bird. But as I fall asleep I see those Painted Buntings in all their fantastic color. Someday, I tell myself. Someday, Michael, you’ll see it someday….
[Painted Bunting song, ML 110139]
Senior Producer: John Kessler
Content Director: Allison Wilson
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Managing Producer: Conor Gearin
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Painted Bunting ML 110139 recorded by J. Bolsinger.
“As Time Goes By” solo piano by Fabio Savelli from his Youtube channel (2011). “La Belle Aurore” from the Casablanca Movie Soundtrack Turner Entertainment (1943).
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2022 BirdNote June 2022 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# noir-06-2022-07-25 noir-06