I haven’t run up much of a bird list here in Copenhagen. The city habitat is a little heavy on stone and masonry, so whatever lives around here must love rooftops and manicured parks. That narrows the list to pigeons (rock and wood, how appropriate), corvids (hooded crows, jackdaws and magpies), and a few gulls (common black-headed, herring, great black-backed) around the wharf. This week we’ve been busy with official business: finding fruit stands and cheesemongers, learning how to navigate cobbled streets and shampoo-purchasing, filling out forms. Birds create a playful diversion. Living in the attic apartment, we can stick our heads out of the roof windows, and sometimes, birds whoosh past at nearly arm’s length.
Below us, Nyhavn (New Harbor) is awhirl with crowds of diners and drinkers clinking glasses at little tables. A strolling accordionist squeezes “Moon River” and “A Time For Us” while herring gulls and magpies lunge at dropped smorrebrod. Today I watched an unleashed chihuahua bury a bone under a tree in a city park as a hooded crow stood by. When the dog’s back was turned, the crow snagged the prize from the dirt and flew away. They are adaptable, those birds, those that can adapt.
As long as we’re in the city, I’ll be looking at the vast possibilities of other things, too: bicycle traffic flow patterns and rider fashions, sketching gruesome statues and 19th century tall ships, people on the street. The birds of Copenhagen, however, squeeze into the human ecosystem with not a lot of room to spare. They breed in castle moats and shaved yew hedges; their wings sweep green spires and chimney tops. And that’s where you’ll find me: sticking my head up above the roof tiles, watching the jackdaws play.