Gary The Bird or How I Spent My Winter Vacation

Submitted into Contest #63 in response to: Write a story from the perspective of a bird migrating for the winter.... view prompt


Fiction Funny Fantasy

Every. Year.



Come six months … nested or not …and we’re off.


And over.

And over.

Like a clock.

Tick tock. Tick tock.

Twice, in fact.

Down the globe. And up the globe.

Down the globe.

And up.


And again.

And again.

It. Is. Doing. My. Nut.

You may ask: Why do we do it?


I’ve never actually been convinced myself.

Boredom, mayhaps?



More than likely.

But who’s to say?

Don’t ask them, though, whatever you do.

Outlandish responses.

That’s all you’ll get.

And they say the most fantabulous things.

It’ll be fun, they say.

It’ll be an adventure, they tell me.

An adventure.

If I wanted an adventure, I’d … I’d … well … I’d find it closer to home.

My home.

Where I hatched.

Where I saw the world for the first time.

Through a crack in the shell.


And what a beautiful world it is.

Home, I mean.


I like Scotland.

I really like Scotland. I’d gladly stay here all year.

Who wouldn’t?

I mean, who’d want to leave?

I’ll tell you who.

These arseholes.

They always want to fly off with the sun.

An adventure.


In Scotland, I’ve got a nest.

It’s roomy.

It’s comfortable.

It’s nice.

Okay, so it snows. Now and again. But it’s not bad. And anyway … I like snow.

It’s pretty.

But they inveigle.

Historically, they tell me, historically we’ve always flown south for the winter months.

Historically, my feathered arse.

Historically we used to rule the skies.

But we don’t anymore.

Do we?


We’ve been relegated.

Haven’t we?

To the status of, and get this: target.



And that’s a thing.


To worry about.

Have you ever seen jet engines?

Very big. Very dangerous.

Getting caught in one of those would put an end to our little holiday real quick, wouldn’t it?

And to get to the airplanes … you’ve got to get past the power lines!

Don’t get me started on the power lines.


Poor Joey.

Never saw it coming.

As far as I’m concerned; stay on the ground, in our nests, in Scotland, and there’d be no danger of any of that sort of thing ever happening!

Makes perfect sense to me.

I think.

Yet here we are. Migrating.


Currently over … where are we? … Dover? … oh … Dover.

I should’ve known. Seeing those things there.

The magnificent, the regal, White Cliffs of Dover.


Oh, I’ve never seen those before.


Only every six months for the past five-and-a-half years.

We do it only because they insist on doing it. The migrating thing.

And if I was the decision maker? Well … it’d be different then, I’ll tell you.

I’m Gary, by the way.

And these flying here with me are … my friends.

My. Friends.

My nemeses, more like.


To call this lot birdbrains would be a compliment.

Actually, they’re my flock.

My flock.

My. Friends.

My. Flock.

My flocking friends.


I, along with my fellow flockers, am a plain swift.

A plain swift.

Apus unicolor.

How fantastic.

Plain. That’s good, isn’t it?


Not a flamboyant swift. Not an elaborate swift. Not even a mildly interesting, I’ll-talk-to-him-if-there’s-no-one-else-at-the-party swift.

Just … plain.


Hell. Even plane would be better.

So plain, in fact, that our scientific name doesn’t even warrant full Latin.

Thank you very much.

It ain’t easy, I’ll tell ya.

My wings … are small.

They get tired.

I get tired.

I just want to rest.

In my nest.

But not today.

As it goes, my brethren and I are, as we always have done, on our way to the winter nesting grounds.

In North Africa.

On an island.

An island, of all things.

Granted, home is an island. But it wouldn’t be if we never left it in the first place!

Do you know what you have to fly over to get to an island?



I don’t like water.

And I don’t like fish!

But what else is there to eat?

When you’re flying over water?

To get to the island?



And the island we’re going to?

Get this.

One of the Canaries.

The Canaries?


Who comes up with this stuff?

 I mean honestly.

They coulda called ‘em anything.

The bears?

The sharks?

But no.

They chose … the canaries.

What can you do?


We number about four thousand. A modest crowd, us.

Four thousand plain is as plain does swifts.

Big ones. Small ones. The ones that always have to be at the front, leading the charge. And the ones we always have to wait for, bringing up the rear.

And then there’s the one that we picked up somewhere around Seville. He’s not a swift. Plain or otherwise. He’s a house martin, he is.

Probably lost from his flock, we thought at the first time we saw him.

Turns out, right we were.

Not the most social of avians. Not the sharpest beak in the bunch either.

A bit annoying, at times. But he’s adopted us. Travels with us whenever and wherever we go.

And, predictably, he’s called Martin.

He, like me, tends to blend in around the middle of the squadron.

Not too noticeable to anything that wants to grab us and plenty of warning should a jet engine be approaching.

Flapping away. In his own little world.

Well … at least he’s happy.

Bless him.

I watch over him. After a fashion.

Don’t let any of the others give him too hard a time.

I can do that when I set my mind to it.


I’ve done it before.

And I’m sure I’ll do it again.

In six months.

Like I did six months ago.

I told them. What I thought. All of them. And when I did, I laid down the law.

That’s it, I said, no more, I said, we’re staying here from now on and that’s final. I have made a decision and I think it would be good for all of us, even Martin, to stay here. On this island. Canary Island. It’s warm. All year. No need to go anywhere else. There. Done.

They said I was acting like an idiot. Like a hatchling. Like a petulant hatchling.

I said that regardless of what they do, I’m staying. Even if they decide to fly back north, they can do it without me.

I’m staying.

Full stop.

My mind was made up.

And that’s when I heard the unbearable, undeniable truth.

Now I don’t want to ruffle any feathers, Martin said to me, but everything, Martin said, everything we do … we do together. We belong together.

The flock.

Don’t we?

And you belong with us.

Don’t you?


One collective mind. One allied body. One shared desire. To migrate. And we do it. Together.

It’s how we’ve always done it, he said.

And it’s how we’ll always do it.

He said.

Then I looked at him. And he looked at me.

And he knew that I’d eventually, as ever, capitulate.

And then I did.

And he knew I did.

And that’s when he said Gary, Martin told me, with his cracked beak and wonky eye.

Face it, Gary, he said.

You’re flocked.


October 15, 2020 19:25

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Nainika Gupta
16:49 Jan 19, 2021

OMG you are responsible for the spat-out-chocolate-milk-onto-my-computer and I may never forgive you again... but seriously.... I loved it. you...are awesome...I just loved it :D


Joseph Sauers
18:53 Jan 19, 2021

🤣🤣🤣 Hi Nainika, I’m thrilled you liked Gary. Your comment is beyond brilliant, it’s made my year! Sorry about your computer. 😕 Thanks again for your kind words. I’ll speak to you soon. 😁


Nainika Gupta
19:03 Jan 19, 2021

🤣 No worries about the computer, Joseph - it has survived MUCH worse :) (one time my horse decided it looked tasty and gave it a hay-infused slobbery can imagine how THAT went over 🙄) No, but seriously...Gary was deserve it!!


Joseph Sauers
19:24 Jan 19, 2021

😆 There’s a story in there. A horse with writer’s block?


Nainika Gupta
19:41 Jan 19, 2021

or a horse with a human voice???? 😆


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Avis Kay
05:44 Nov 09, 2020

This may be one of the best things I read. XD Such a hilarious story and I loved how it was formatted.


Joseph Sauers
09:34 Nov 15, 2020

Hi Rachel, thank you for your very kind words. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed reading Gary. I had fun writing it and thought that a ‘bullet-point’ presentation would add to the story. It would seem that it was the correct choice. 😁 Thanks again for your comments. Speak to you soon.


Avis Kay
16:33 Nov 15, 2020

Haha, yep!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Bi Chronicler Z
10:34 Nov 07, 2020

I loved the way you wrote it, not in paragraphs but separate lines for every piece of thought. Maybe birds do think like that. I tried to imagine how James McAvoy would read it and I couldn't stop laughing. This is one of the funniest stories I have ever read. Also, "flocking flock" and "you're flocked" were the icing on the cake. :D


Show 0 replies
Malz Castell
18:01 Nov 06, 2020

I loved the writing style. And the story is one of the funniest stories I've read this year.


Joseph Sauers
19:53 Nov 06, 2020

Hi Malz, thanks for your comment. I’m glad it made you smile. 😊


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Ivory Vega
18:14 Oct 29, 2020

This was marvelous! Absolutely amazing! A very good poetry.


Show 0 replies
Vadasz Sara
14:21 Oct 25, 2020

Plain brilliant.


Show 0 replies
Lesley Fox
16:26 Oct 24, 2020

omg I loved this! so creative and funny. My flocking friends is such a good line. Also for some reason this bird being called Gary is hilarious, poor Grumpy Gary. Amazing work xl


Show 0 replies
Vivian Rouse
01:03 Oct 24, 2020

I especially enjoyed the mention of aircraft engines...I have designed fan modules to be able to withstand birdstrikes!


Show 0 replies
John Del Rio
14:18 Oct 23, 2020

I like the touch about “plain” and how they don’t even warrant a full Latin name. I like Gary. I want to look in on him in 6 months when he is on his way home to Scotlanf


Show 0 replies
John Del Rio
14:17 Oct 23, 2020

So well written.


Show 0 replies
11:07 Oct 23, 2020

Very nice poetic representation


Show 0 replies
Dhevalence .
06:44 Oct 23, 2020

Thanks for liking my story man, else I wouldn't have got to read yours ( hectic schedule and all) but boy am I glad to have read it. And read it. Just what I needed. Well done mate. Sure won't forget your name in future.


Show 0 replies
Shae Greyfeather
12:11 Oct 22, 2020



Show 0 replies
Philip Ebuluofor
09:52 Oct 22, 2020

Combination. Fine work. One submission, one eye opener. Keep it up.


Show 0 replies
Ken Coomes
23:36 Oct 21, 2020

One amazing story! Very well done. I was a little confused by the comment "But it wouldn’t be if we never left it in the first place!" Seems like Scotland would remain an island, whether Gary and friends left, or not. Anyway, I really enjoyed the read, and I look forward to more from you.


Joseph Sauers
05:54 Oct 22, 2020

Hi Ken, thank you for your wonderful comments. I’m really glad that you enjoyed reading Gary. I had a lot of fun writing it. Concerning the line you’ve quoted, it’s a reference to Jaws when Chief Brody says “It’s only an island if you look at it from the water.” To which Matt Hooper mocks, “Well that makes a lotta sense.” Much like Chief Brody, who also hates the water, the line is a glimpse into Gary’s perspective of his home and where he’d rather remain. 😁 Thanks again for your kind words. I’m working on another story for this week’s subm...


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Nayantara Rao
06:35 Oct 21, 2020

Wow amazing, super funny 😂 I’m glad to have read it !


Show 0 replies
Elliot Lollar
20:00 Oct 20, 2020

Bro this is amazing. I haven't laughed this much in ages. Keep it up


Show 0 replies
Echo Sundar
16:10 Oct 20, 2020

I love this! I like how hes complaining abut migrating, its hilarious! Great first submission!


Show 0 replies
Amy Utami
12:44 Oct 20, 2020

I don't know, if it's supposedly funny, but I laughed hard! I love it! 🐣🐣🐣😂 Your writing style reminded me of an old friend and it's amazing. I just love it, enjoy it, so entertaining. Mostly because I know how hard is it to put such on point criticism into a story like this. I was gave up one mine 😅. I really wait for your next work 🐣😉 Thanks for such a good story.


Show 0 replies
Lourenço Amorim
11:58 Oct 20, 2020

I really like the short-sentence writing style of yours. Clever story and charismatic character. Nicely done.


Show 0 replies